Category Archives: Relationships

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.

Science of Romance & Couples Counseling

The Kissing Brain: Investigating the Neuroscience of Romantic Couples

The kissing brain couples counseling.

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.

Holiday Relationship Tips During the Pandemic

Relationship Tips for Holidays

Relationship tips for the Portland Pandemic holiday.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.

Boundaries-knowing your no (sneaking in anger)

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.

Portland area coaching for anger management.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.

This image is curtesy of stockimages at freedigitalphotos.net

Holidays with Family

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. Family counseling offered for Portland area clients.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Photo compliments of samurai at freedigitialphotos.net

Making Clear Agreements

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.”)

In Need of Couples Therapy in Portland?

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. Portland, Oregon Couples Therapy.

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.

Photo compliments of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net

Contradictions

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.”

ID-10066173Sometimes 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 ID-100279435your 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?

 

 

 

Image curtesy of Ambro  and taesmileland from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Living as Art

I was talking with some people recently about strengths and being a visionary and an artist. I started thinking about art: life as art, the art of living, being art. Which is where the idea for this blog came in.

ID-100203610I was thinking about what to name it. There is already an Art of Living Foundation. I settled into Living as Art. What if we are a masterpiece in the creation? We are the art. We are the focus which looks different in different light, in different settings. We are not stagnant. We are not finished. We are evolving and changing.

 

ID-100146460Painters can start, paint over, cover up, change what they are working on. Aren’t we doing that all the time? I have
the intention to continue looking inward at the exploration which is my life, of my patterns, of what I create in my life or not. I adjust myself, I shift from stuck to possibilities, I express.

Exploration for thisID-100209562 week is to check out what looks like an amazing example of this called Exhibit: Growth. It is interactive. Art is created from your responses. ID-10047285How awesome is that?

Photos from Free Digital Photos

Fix It. Fix me. Fix them.

Are you someone who sees themselves as a fix it project or sees other people as fix it projects? I see this a lot in couples therapy. “If you can just change that one thing, then I could be happy.” “If only you didn’t do that, my life would be so much easier.” Then when one thing is fixed something else needs fixing, you are ready to move on to the next thing. “Sure you pick up your dirty socks, what about doing some dishes/ more cleaning/ having more/ less sex.” The list can go on and on and on…

I also see this in individual therapy. “If I just changed (fill in the blank) then things would be better.” “If I didn’t do this annoying thing then I would like myself better.” Once some of the pounds come off, you want more off another area. You can always find something wrong.

What if (play along with me for a bit)- what if you/other people weren’t fix it projects? What if you/they are whole, just as they are? You may want to make changes and that is okay and you can still be loveable just are you/ they are. This may be a stretch, because I think we are taught to see what is wrong. Remember the two pictures and you had to see what didn’t match. This is how we often see ourselves in comparison to others, or our partner in comparison to other people’s partners. Play with this a bit and notice when you want to fix, change, adjust you or someone else and notice how you react to this.