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Have You Fallen Madly In Love?

Doesn't everyone want to fall madly in love?

Do you try intensely to keep intimate, meaningful, and deep connections with a partner or spouse in your love relationships? Falling madly in love is part of a fantasy many people have to find their true "soul mate." If you relate to this drive, you probably do all that you can to keep the other person in your life, and to feel as close as possible to him or her. Most likely, if you focus strongly on having a deep connection with your mate, you also are relatively good at reading other people's emotions and empathizing with their plights.

While some people may enjoy going out on a date with a partner along with a group of friends, if you focus on connection, you probably would rather have deeper experiences that inspire more intimate conversations to get to know your date. Your focus is more likely to build a deeper bond with the man or woman you desire.

Trying to get to know another person intimately also involves risk. You may open yourself up to being vulnerable faster than other people, and then get hurt if your attempts to reach out are not responded to. Helping build a stronger buffer for hurt and rejection can help you to continue along your path of finding your true love, and help keep your relationship strong. 

The Negotiator Trait in a Love Relationship: Who Matches Best?

In her book "Why Him? Why Her?" Helen Fisher, a key creator of chemistry.com, calls this type of personality style a "negotiator," meaning a partner who seeks a long-term commitment and marriage more than most other personality types. Feelings are held supreme, along with a person's thoughts and motives. Of the four personality types Fisher describes, negotiators are the most romantic, and fall in love much more than the other three personality types she describes. A romantic evening and weekend may be at the top of your list of plans, along with expressing love verbally and physically. 

Are some personality types better suited in marriages and love relationships than others?

Are some personality types better suited in marriages and love relationships than others?

Sex is a key part of strengthening the bond of a relationship, and for people who most fit this style, casual sex most likely feels empty and meaningless. Fantasy can easily take over, however, and reality may not quiet meet the expecations of your dream. For you, sex is most likely a point of discussion, since a good sex life is linked to a healthy, loving relationship. 

If you identify with this personality trait, you place a priority on connecting with your partner, but this isn't necessarily expressed through clingy behavior or becoming demanding. Instead, if you aren't getting your needs met, you most likely start to feel like you're carrying a weight on your shoulders, and feel that you need to break free of what may start to feel less like a soulmate and more like a source of deprivation. Nothing less than unconditional love is expected, and loneliness with a partner or spoues who doesn't know how to love can amplify your unhappiness. A drawback of this personality trait may be that you stay far too long with a partner or spouse who is not a good match for you.

Are You and Your Partner or Spouse a Good Match?

How do you know if your partner or spouse is a good match? Helen Fisher describes four personality traits, but she is not a marriage or couples therapist, and does not offer remedies for partners who have different traits to make a relationship work successfully.  Fisher claims that negotiators are not usually strongly attracted to other negotiators. If they are, both partners may share many traits that work smoothly together, and may also experience challenging matches, not being able to make up their minds when a decision is necessary, or giving each other little space to develop individually. 

Do You Relate to this Personality Type in Your Marriage or Love Relationship? 

Is this a series of traits that you relate to? If so, have you found it easier or more difficult to relate to certain types of partners? A key philosophy at the Loving at Your Best Plan is that personality traits do not have to determine the success of a marriage or love relationship. Even people with extremely similar interests, values, and styles can have a terrible relationship, and mates with almost nothing in common who share the most important thing in common, each other, can have fantastically happy marriages and love relationships. 

Reference: "Why Him? Why Her?" by Helen Fisher, Henry Hold and Company, 2009. 

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Does Your History Matter?

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What lessons did you learn from your family about emotions? Your caregivers communicated a belief about emotions, whether you realized it or not, that probably affects you today in your marriage or love relationship. How has this emotional philosophy affected you when you've experienced key moments of vulnerability in your life?

How your family and caregivers dealt with emotions can have a significant impact on how you connect with other people in your life today. Your awareness of what you're feeling, your ability to express your emotions, and how you reach out to others for connection all are influenced by your earlier experiences. At the same time, your awareness of what your partner or spouse is feeling, and how you respond to his or her needs are equally influenced by your earlier experiences.

Why Does Your Emotional History Matter So Much?

One of the strongest contributors to how you'll connect with your partner or spouse is your emotional experience, and this helps shape your ability to connect in your closest relationships, unless you're able to realize how the past may be interfering with your present situation. We all respond to situations in different ways, and one of the strongest influences on how we react is our family history. 

Why Not Just Forget About Your Past? If you work on understanding it, won't you just get stuck in it?

Why Not Just Forget About Your Past? If you work on understanding it, won't you just get stuck in it?

Exploring your family history isn't always easy. Why not just forget about the past? In reality, our brain never forgets our experiences, and when those situations haven't been put together in a way that helps us make sense of our lives, we're open to being subjected to the past overwhelming us and being imprisoned by our past instead of responding in the present with a reaction that best fits the now.

For example, when you meet someone for the first time, he or she may remind your of someone significant in your life, like a sibling, a past lover, or a past friend. These associations can have positive or negative assumptions to them that may not fit the actual person in front of you now, yet you may immediately start to treat him or her like the person your brain is associating him or her with. We can see how this could lead to some bad scenarios.

You can work to become more aware of these associations in your life, when you're having an "outsized" reaction to someone or something that doesn't seem to fit what is in front of you. Journal writing is one key way that can help you determine the difference between the past and now. Writing a description of how you are experiencing the person or the situation can often give you insight into what may be reminding you of the past situation, and even more importantly, what is different about then and now.

We use many tools at the Loving at Your Best Plan to help couples work detangle past experiences without becoming mired in or overwhelmed by the past. You can contact one of our therapists and meet with him or her to help uncover what may be holding you back from getting the love that you really need and deserve in your life.

Share Your Experiences

Have an experience when a past event shaped your response to the present? Share your experiences to help others relate to them. If you liked this article, feel free to forward it to a friend or loved one.

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Do You Exercise in Your Marriage or Love Relationship?

Do you and your mate exercise together regularly? 

Do you and your mate exercise together regularly? 

The single most important thing you can do for your health: physical exercise. How exercise and marriage or love relationships go together may not be clear to many people, but the literal effects are significant. Regular physical exercise can mean not only both you and your partner or spouse being in better moods, but living a long and healthy life together.

You may have heard that exercising significantly lowers your risk of developing or dying from:

  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • diabetes
  • certain cancers

You may also be aware that exercise has the following benefits:

  • improves mood
  • builds bones
  • strengthens muscles
  • expands lung capacity
  • reduces risk of falls and fractures
  • helps keep weight in check

You may not have known the recent discoveries scientists have made that bring even more benefits to the power of exercise:

  • boosts brainpower
  • improves organization and planning
  • reduces anxiety and depression symptoms
  • enhances the immune system’s ability to detect and fend off certain cancers

Exercise most likely works so well in your body for so many areas because it is benefiting minor to moderate aspects of physiology rather than larger effects on a small number of processes involving cells and tissues.

What is your goal to exercise and make a difference for you and your partner or spouse?

You do not need to be a triatholete or run a marathon to reap the benefits of exercise. Your crucial task is to exercise in sustained bouts of moderate movement. This translates into at least 30 minutes of moderate activity, like brisk walking, five or more times per week (or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, like jogging), plus 30 minutes of muscle-strengthening activity at least two days a week.

Exercising aerobically significantly boosts the amount of oxygen needed by your muscles that your lungs must work harder to supply. Other forms of exercise, like lifting weights or balancing exercises, are also helpful. When you first start exercising, your body burns mostly glucose molecules. As you continue, it burns triglyceride, a kind of fat. By-products such as lactic acid and carbon dioxide seep from your muscles into the bloodstream, and the removal of these wastes prompts further reactions in your brain, lungs, and heart that become more efficient and less tiring over time. All this means that your body is doing a great thing by getting rid of waste and improving your efficiency.

When do the benefits of exercise really kick-in?

The answer is: once your physical activity becomes a habit. Your stamina increases as you become more fit. With practice, your longs process more oxygen as you breath deeper and your heart pumps more blood with each beat. Your body adjusts over a few weeks as you meet physical activity demands that lead to improved long-term health and well-being.

What do you do for exercise in your marriage or love relationship? 

In a marriage or love relationship, regular exercise can be enjoyed as a couple or relationship activity. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you plan on physical activities together on weekends? 
  • At least one night during the week, are you able to enjoy a physical exercise together with your spouse or partner?
  • Do you know the favorite physical activities of your partner or spouse, and have you planned some of those activities together?
  • What are your favorites physical activities, and have you told your partner or spouse what you’d like to do together?

Did you know this about exercise? 

Although you may have thought that exercise made you feel better for quite some time, it wasn’t until 2008 that scientists were able to identify what occurs in the brain that leads to feeling better emotionally with regular exercise. The brain releases more endorphins that evoke pleasurable feelings. These endorphines are also active in many regions of the brain responsible for strong emotions (much more than just in the bloodstream, which wouldn’t affect mood). In 2011 scientists discovered that regular exercise increases the size of the hippocampus, allowing you to remember familiar surroundings better and create new cells, what we call neurogenisis. 

For your physical health, exercise does lower your blood pressure and the amount of "bad" LDL cholesterol while raising the "good" HDL cholesterol. Weight training in particular is great at raising HDL cholesterol over several months of practice. Specifically, exercise changes the properties of LDL more than lowering the amount in the blood. Exercise increases the number of larger, safer LDL molecules and decreases the number of small, dangerous ones. A couch potato most likely has many small LDL molecules, even if he or she has the same numbers for LDL compared to a regular exerciser. What this means is that the smaller LDL molecules are much more dangerous, and pose a significantly higher risk to the non-exerciser.

Let's be clear: exercise is not easy, but it's not an option for health & mood

Only one in five Americans meets the recommendations for aerobic and resistance exercising. To help lower the bar, keep in mind that even shorter dosages of exercising can help: 11 minutes per day of leisurely activities like gardening or taking your dog for a walk can increase life expectancy by 1.8 years. Moderate exercising may increase life expectancy by 3.4 years. If you can reach the recommended exercise guidelines, you may increase your life expectancy by 4.2 years. Keep in mind that an increased life expectancy with improved health and mood also most likely means a significant increase in the quality of your life, so you and your partner or spouse can enjoy many more years in your marriage or love relationship to travel the world or enjoy that walk down the beach at sunset without having to be carried by the other.

Your task in your marriage or love relationship in NYC

Regular physical activity needs to be built into your daily habits and physical environments, as easy as it is to jump onto the subway now. Make it a regular part of your own daily routine, a weekly routine within your relationship, and a necessity over the weekends in your marriage or love relationship.

Share your experiences from your marriage or love relationship

What are your favorite physical activities? Do you enjoy the same exercises as your spouse or partner? Are there exercises you're not willing to participate in that your partner or spouse loves? If so, how do you compromise and still feel close and connected? Is physical activity or exercise sometimes a challenge or source of conflict in your love relationship or marriage? Share your experiences and help other couples and relationships.

Source: information in this blog from an excellent article in this month's Scientific American titled “The Wonders of Exercise” pp. 76-79, August 2013. Check out the full issue to read more about exercise and the body.

 

 

 

 

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How Can You Make Your Marriage or Love Last?

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What Does a Lasting Love Look Like? When your marriage or love relationship is in a secure place, you’re able to pause and observe what is happening when you and your partner or spouse are getting stuck, regulating your emotions, and then reflecting on what the conflict between the two of you means for both of you. Once you understand and make sense of the meaning for yourself and your spouse or partner, you can then ask for what you need, and be open to responding to what your partner or spouse needs.

What Does a Distressed Marriage or Couple Look Like? If your marriage or love relationship is distressed, you most likely will have difficulty managing your emotions, understanding the meaning for both of you behind conflicts, and responding effectively with what you both need. In a distressed marriage or love relationship, you’ll likely get stuck in the typical negative patterns of the “Demon Dialogues” described in "Hold Me Tight" by Sue Johnson, the creator of Emotionally Focused Therapy:

  • Attack/Defend
  • Attack/Attack
  • Withdraw/Withdraw

The negative patterns you get stuck in are most likely reactions to the “raw spots” or sensitivities that all of us have in our marriages or love relationships. These sensitivities filter through what is happening in the moment between you and your partner or spouse, using the lens of associations from your past experiences.

What are these Core sensitivities?

 

  • Abandonment
  • Emotional Deprivation
  • Mistrust
  • Defectiveness

When your love relationship or marriage is emotionally secure, you and your partner or spouse may hit areas of sensitivity at times while managing them in a way that can actually be healing. For instance, if you’ve experienced instability in your key relationships, your partner or spouse can work on staying emotionally present with you when your fears arise, helping you to soothe the sense of danger your mind expects from unreliable relationships. As you work to soften your reactions to your partner or spouse, he or she responds in ways that help you know you can rely on him or her, even without being perfect. The expectation in your mind that important people aren't reliable or won't be there for you shifts to knowing from experiencing that your partner or spouse is there for you.

What Can You Do To Improve Your Marriage or Love Relationship? 

  1. Identify the negative pattern that takes over your marriage or love relationship when you feel disconnected or alone
  2. Define the sensitivities you and your partner or spouse have underneath the intense emotions or numbing out that occur
  3. Invite your partner or spouse to "take the elevator down" with you into your deeper emotions (fear, sadness, shame), and help him or her understand your vulnerable side
  4. Identify what you need, based on your emotional state. Ask your partner clearly and directly for your need to be met, most importantly, in an inviting way
  5. Understand your partner or spouse and his or her vulnerabilities, along with the meaning behind what upsets him or her. Invite your partner or spouse to tell you directly what he or she needs

 

Share Your Experience in Your Marriage or Love Relationship

Have you had times when you've realized you've been caught in a negative pattern with your partner or spouse? Do you know what lied underneath the conflict for you and for him or her? Have you found a way to successfully navigate conflicts in your marriage or love relationship? Share your experiences, and help others learn more. 

Need a Marriage or Couples Counselor or Therapist in NYC?

The Loving at Your Best plan for marriage and couples counseling and therapy in NYC helps couples learn to reconnect and to thrive. Even if your relationship has been stuck in a very negative place for a long time, there can still be significant hope that you and your spouse or partner can get your relationship back. If you'd like more information, contact our office today at 212-725-7774, or schedule an appointment directly online: www.LovingatYourBest.Genbo ok.com

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Caught in a Lovetrap? Clearing Up Blind Spots in Your Marriage or Love Relationship

What Are "Lovetraps," and How Can They Get You Stuck in Your Marriage or Love Relationship?

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Have you ever interpreted something your partner or spouse did in a negative way, only later to find out you were either blowing things out of proportion, or simply wrong? If you're like most humans, that is easy to answer. Our past experiences define how we see what is happening in the moment, even when our perceptions doesn't actually fit the reality. These perceptions, or mental filters, are referred to as “schemas,” beliefs that filter how you see the world. Schemas that influence you to feel like your partner will leave you, cheat on you, or lie to you most likely stem from key experiences in your past when you were hurt or betrayed. We call schemas "Lovetraps," because they can create huge blind spots that get in the way of safety and closeness in our marriage or love relationships.

Closely linked to these mental filters of schemas are emotions, such as anger, sadness, fear, and shame, followed by behavioral urges that may include anger (fight), withdrawal (flight), or paralysis (freeze).  The most common primary schemas that lead to "love traps" relate to how you see yourself (self-esteem) and relationships (with caregivers, romantic partners, and peers). 

The Most Common Schemas in Marriages or Love Relaitonships

  • Abandonment: you expect instability, unreliability, or loss of anyone you are close to
  • Mistrust and Abuse: you expect significant others will hurt, abuse, humiliate, cheat, lie, manipulate, betray, or take advantage of you
  • Emotional Deprivation: you believe that significant others, including your partner or spouse and caregivers, will never meet your primary needs for nurturance, empathy, affection, and protection 
  • Defectiveness or Shame: you feel you are bad, unwanted, undesired, inferior, or invalid
  • Social Exclusion: you feel different or not part of any group or community; you minimize similarities with other people and maximize differences, usually with peers and groups

Your parents gave you a basic template for loving relationships. Sensitivities may also originate from wounding relationships with your siblings, members of your family, mentors or caregiving authorities, and your past and present romantic relationships.

How Do You Know When You're Stuck in a "Lovetrap"?

 

When your schema is perceiving something with your partner or spouse in a negative way, you’ll either detach from him or her and go numb to "protect" yourself, or experience an intense emotional reaction that you’re aware of, such as anger, fear, sadness or shame. Emotion moves fast, as a protective response to help you survive the potential of danger or threat. If you want to recognize what is occurring in a situation with your partner or spouse, you’ll have to regulate your central nervous system by breathing while doing muscle relaxation or focused attention exercises to help you connect your emotional brain (usually your right hemisphere unless you’re left-handed) with your logical, linguistic and linear brain in your left-hemisphere (unless you are left-handed). If you are able to successfully slow your central nervous system down from a hyper-aroused state through regulation, you will then be able to use your left-hemisphere brain to assess the situation in a more logical, rational way. 

When your schema is triggered, you’ll most likely notice that you’re feeling off-balance, disoriented, disorganized, angry, or numb. The urges that come up for you in the situation may puzzle or startle your partner or spouse in the situation, as they often don’t seem to relate to the degree of severity the experience or situation warrants. For instance, if you have an abandonment schema, where you are afraid that relationships don’t last and expect instability, your coping strategy of anger that protests against a disconnection with your partner or spouse ends up causing more distance and disconnection in your marriage or love relationship.

Your Brain is an Anticipation Machine: Your Past Shapes How You See the Now

Your brain responds to cues in your current marriage or love relationship with associations from past caregivers, unless your past hurts have been resolved. For instance, if you have a “Mistrust” schema, your partner or spouse arriving home an hour late may easily be interpreted as a “cue” that he or she is having an affair, and will most likely hurt or betray you like a significant past caregiver or partner did. As you’re waiting for him or her to arrive home, your body responds from your brain with alarm, as the danger of getting hurt is linked with your past hurts. You may get angry when your partner or spouse arrives home, accusing him or her of misleading or lying to you. Your anger pushes your partner or spouse away from you, and you most likely feel distance instead of closeness and reassurance. It’s hard for any partner or spouse to respond effectively to the emotion of anger. In reality, your partner or spouse may simply have been running late from work, instead of having an affair.

Many of us are afraid to express our sensitivities or vulnerabilities to other people, especially our partner or spouse. More than anyone else, your partner or spouse may hurt you, and you may fear that he or she may see you as weak, try to control you, or ignore your sensitivities so that you feel even worse. However, your partner or spouse can’t respond to your schemas if you don’t regulate yourself when you’re activated, and reflect on what theme is interfering with your ability to see what is happening in your current situation. Courage and a leap of faith are needed to help you express your sensitivities to your partner or spouse so that he or she can respond in a way that helps you feel better.

esources to Help: Reinventing Your Life & Mindsight

chema therapy, developed by Dr. Jeffrey E. Young, is an empirically validated approach that combines the best methods from cognitive behavioral therapy, emotion-focused therapy, and behavioral therapy. You can read more about schemas and how they may impact you and your relationships in the self-help book, Reinventing Your Life, by Jeffrey Young and Janet Klosko. The Loving at Your Best Plan uses schema therapy as a foundation for our approach to improving marriages and love relationships.

Mindsight, developed by Dr. Daniel J. Siegel, is at the forefront of brain science, using interpersonal neurobiology to help change your brain. At the Loving at Your Best Plan, we use advanced techniques from the Mindsight approach to help you in your marriage or love relationship. 

Share Your Experiences from Your Marriage or Love Relationship

Do you recognize times when you become very upset, or go numb, when your partner or spouse does or says something? Do you recognize what upsets your partner or spouse? Share your experiences of getting caught in your "lovetraps," and help others in our community to learn from your wisdom. Have a question about how to help your marriage or love relationship? Complete the space below, and join the conversation about how to help your marriage or love relationship thrive.

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