4 Tips You Need to Know in Your First Year of a Relationship
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.
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.
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.
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.
Why it hurts when your partner won’t take your advice and what to do about it.
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.
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.
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The Kissing Brain: Investigating the Neuroscience of Romantic Couples
New study uses mobile EEG to investigate real-life emotions in romantic couples.
Think about the last situation in which you experienced an intense positive emotion.
Did it involve another person?
The answer to this question is highly likely to be “Yes.” While negative emotions like sadness are often experienced when we are lonely, positive emotions often (but not always) occur while we interact with other people, like family, friends, or romantic partners. Despite this, neuroscientific studies aimed at investigating human emotions often involve people sitting in a laboratory alone while looking at pictures of emotional scenes. While this highly controlled environment has several benefits when conducting psychological experiments, it has one big drawback: Pretty much anyone can tell that looking at a picture of two people kissing is not the same as passionately kissing another person yourself.
Continue reading at Psychology Today.
If you and your partner need help, I offer online couples counseling for Oregon clients. Contact me and find out how I can help.
Relationship Tips for Holidays
This time of year can be hard. I think this year in particular may be harder. We are 7 plus months into the pandemic and not seeing a clear way out. People are tired, people want connection and socializing and some normalcy. With colder, wetter weather coming in the Pacific Northwest, in person socializing can be harder.
I have heard people talk about the upcoming holidays. And most likely it won’t be the same as years past. Some people don’t want to do anything if it can’t be the way it has been. I don’t know if anyone actually threw the baby out with the bath water, but please don’t. There are things that are good and can be reworked with some creativity. Holiday rituals don’t have to be non-existent. It can be different. I encourage you to be creative in finding different ways to connect with family and friends. Find different ways to do things that you have enjoyed in the past, just tweak them a bit.
If you are struggling and need some help, contact me for more information on Oregon Telehealth relationship therapy appointments.
How do you know what you want or don’t want? How do you let others know? How do you respond when others share their what they want or not?
Is Coaching for you?
This can cause a lot of disrupt in relationships. Often times people will see someone saying no as a rejection. Perhaps even sharing what they want could be seen by themselves or others as being selfish.
I see anger as a boundary emotion. It lets us know when something needs to stop or change. Yet, when we hold onto this anger/frustration/irritation/annoyance/etc, it festers and comes out typically as an argument or a lingering mood that can last several hours, days or months. I will also share this: yelling and anger are not the same thing. I think yelling happens when it festers.
What would life be like if that anger was noticed in the moment and something was either acknowledged by that person or even shared out loud. Now, wait a moment, if you are like a lot of people, you may say that is impossible or you simply couldn’t do that or what chaos would erupt if you allowed yourself to do that. Take a breath. I am talking about going inward and noticing and acknowledging. That in and of itself can make a huge difference. Wow, I feel angry (vexed, ill tempered, you use whatever word works) and noticing I had hoped you would do the dishes. Anger doesn’t equal blame, it can come out as blame, but they are not one in the same.
Homework if you choose to accept: take a moment when you notice yourself getting angry (agitated/ displeased/ huffy) to simply notice and acknowledge that. Then ask yourself what boundary have you or someone else stepped over. And what do you want around that? It may be an agreement with someone (your friend shows up late). A cultural agreement (a car speeds by you going 20 miles over the limit).
Contact for more information on Portland area coaching and talk to me about your desires for coaching.
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Your Deepest Roots Can Be Nurtured With Counseling
Often times when people are in therapy or coaching and working on different patterns, it can particularly troubling or difficult when they visit family and step right back into the same patterns.
I tell my clients that family is often where the deepest roots are. Imagine trying to pull up a sapling. You could probably do it without any problem. Now think of a larger sapling, perhaps up to your knee. You would still most likely be able to do it easily. Now think of one larger, up to your head. You may need to put a little more into pulling it up. What about one that is about 3 inches in diameter. At this point, it will take longer. You will need to push, pull, maybe dig. I think you could probably do it although it will take time and effort, certainly more effort than the last several trees. Now imagine one that is 100 feet high. You may not be able to get your arms around it. This will take a significant amount of effort. You may ask others for help, use some tools. Even with the assistance, it will take longer than the first tree.
Now imagine these as your patterns. Family dynamics have been going on for years. These are like the 100 foot tree. Is it impossible to remove that tree. No, I wouldn’t do my job if I didn’t think it was possible.
A couple of things to remember when you are visiting family:
- Give yourself some compassion, even just a little. Do not expect automatic changes either from yourself or for your family. Go easy on yourself. Maybe you notice the pattern in a different way, even noticing the pattern at all is a significant change.
- Take time for yourself. In my world, self care is important. Especially when traveling and being out of your typical routine or zone. Get some fresh air, call a friend, ask for support from your significant other or a friend, take a walk, read a book.
- Plan ahead. Imagine where you may get caught up in the dynamics; for example it may be around a certain family ritual or a certain topic of conversation. This is a not a fail safe, although you may notice the pattern starting and planned to take a breath before responding or excuse yourself to go for a walk or even just to the bathroom or for your spouse to look at you or put their hand on your back.
I would love to hear how it went and what you did to support yourself in the journey. Contact me today to find out how I can help with therapy and counseling.
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This is a skill that I think is super helpful in life. Often times friends, intimate partners, or family members will have an idea of something. This is usually not said. Then when someone else has a different idea that is often not shared either, tension and arguments can ensue. Take for example coming home. One person may want space to take off their shoes, put their stuff away and take a moment to breath before greeting the other person. The other person comes in wanting the other to drop everything and give them a big hug, acknowledge that they arrived and are happy to see them. This is often not talked about which then can cause disrupts and irritation. You may expect something and have an agreement on your end and the other person wasn’t aware of the agreement. (Another of my favorites is when one person in a couple does something on a regular basis, then they stop and the other person gets upset, “But you always did that.”)
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What if you could make a clear agreement about what you wanted. What if it was actually ok to ask for what you want? The other person has the ability to say no. If it is not said it is not an agreement from both people.
Stepping Stone: (Instead of homework, since some people have a hard time with that word, esp teenagers) Share with someone else what you want and making a clear agreement that you both agree to. Do not agree if you don’t really want to, that is a set up for failure and broken agreements which breaks trust.
Example: Hey, I really like when you greet me at the door when I come home. What do you think about that?
Or: Hey I noticed that you push me away when I come up to say hi when you first come home, do you want some space before I say hi?
Work more on agreements with me for couples, family, or group therapy at my Portland office. Contact me to set up an appointment.
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Contradiction, according to Google: “a combination of statements, ideas, or features of a situation that are opposed to one another.” Opposites, same source: “having a position on the other or further side of something; facing something, especially something of the same type.”
Sometimes we can have ideas, feelings, thoughts that feel totally at odds with each other. fFor example I can either accept the situation as it is and do nothing or reject it completely and make major changes, I can either have security or passion, I can either win or lose this argument, I can either be rigid or be in the flow. And we think, “How can these possible co-exist?” We feel stuck.
Try something out with me. In one hand put one of your statements. Feel it there. Does it have any movement, texture, color, sound? Be with it right now in this moment. Now in your other hand put the other statement. Notice the same. Now can your two hands holding these statements move and be in existence in each hand at the same time? Hold both simultaneously and notice what happens. Once you notice ease in this, perhaps have your two hands interact together. Move them closer together then farther apart. Have one hand try on the movement, feeling of the other hand and vice versa. Do you notice anything different in your experience of the two appearing contradictory statements?
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