Wouldn't it feel great if you and your partner checked in with each other once in a while during the day? It doesn't have to be anything over the top... just a quick text or phone call to say hello, or to wish you a wonderful day... or just to see how things are going in your world? Sadly, many couples don't do this with each other at all. It is so common for us to live paralleled lives with our spouse and not actually feel connected at all. Is that what your marriage feels like? If so, I want to say I understand and my heart breaks for you both.
I know that feeling of loneliness and it stinks (to put it nicely). I've lived that paralleled life in my marriage before. We were great decision makers, had a great family and "doing life" well, we just never really took time to check in with each other and connect. In the beginning it was okay, neither of us seemed to really "need" anything from each other... we were competent, "independent" people. As we continued to build a family and life together, our attempts to intentionally connect with each other became superficial date nights that you hope will make things better, giving each other cards or gifts once in a while to avoid conflict, keeping ourselves busy with work, etc... all the things that couples do when they don't feel connected and trying to figure out how to remedy this while also doing life together with bills, children, family members and other responsibilities.
I'll say it, it just sucks to live this way. Not only that, but this kind of loneliness and building resentment just drives people to behave in ways that really aren't their true selves. It leads to nasty arguments that seem to sound like a broken record, shutting down on each other, sarcasm, feelings of bitterness, poor decision making and even worse coping behaviors, wondering if you ever loved this person at all, wondering if maybe you're just not cut out for this marriage thing. All of it is BS, honestly. It's just total BS that creeps in, messes with our minds and causes many of us to throw in the towel on someone we once promised to spend the rest of our lives with. I would never in a million years wish that kind of turmoil, confusion and pain on my worst enemy.
So, fast forward with a spoiler alert, my husband and I experience each other so, so differently now. We did the hard work and held tightly to our faith when we couldn't see any evidence that we would last. Here we are in year 16. Some of you may still think of us as marriage newbies at only 16 years! However, I can tell you, that I never imaged our hearts could soften toward each other again, never mind actually learning how to move toward each other in an honest and clearer way. In addition to our strong faith, I credit the concepts of Emotionally Focused Therapy for allowing us the opportunity to really learn how to connect. We know how to show up for each other, how to hear each other, how to meet each other's needs without fear of failure or judgment. Not only that, but we actually have FUN together, we found our friendship, love and passion for each other again and, YES, you can do it too.
My hope in working with couples is to allow them the same opportunity to learn about their cycle with their partner, figure out the blocks that keep them stuck and learn how to effectively move them out of the way together. If you are looking for a big jump start to renew your relationship, I invite you to join us for our next EFT couples workshop in Knoxville on January 19th and 20th. These weekends have been complete game changers for couples, as you can read from some of our testimonials.
I don't know your relationship details, but I do know that many couples walk away from each other before ever understanding the patterns that got them tangled up and bitter. If there is a willingness on both sides to simply be curious and open to learning something new, please join us. You will be astonished with how much you can work through together in just two days.
If you have any questions at all about our upcoming workshop please contact me. I'm happy to answer any questions. You can also read much more about our workshop at www.holdmetightknoxille.com. The name of the workshop is called "Hold Me Tight," which is the program based on Emotionally Focused Therapy and written by developer, Dr. Sue Johnson. EFT is considered the gold-standard model of working with couples in distress and offers a clear road map for helping couples find, see and hear each other again (or possibly for the first time). You do not have to continue feeling lonely in your marriage. The work you will do with your spouse or partner during the workshop will not only likely have a lasting impact on your marriage but, in turn, a positive generational impact. We can do better for each other and our families.
More information about our upcoming workshop can be found at www.holdmetightknoxville.com. I look forward to answering any questions. Please don't hesitate to reach out! You can call me at 865-384-2172 or use the contact for HERE.
Have a wonderful afternoon!
What would happen if someone gave you permission to be imperfect? Would it feel like a weight has been lifted or would you find yourself wanting to push back out of fear of what imperfect means to you? As much as we work to be authentic in our lives and relationships, it can be really difficult to let go the idea of having to perform, having to get it right all the time... having to be perfect.
We are complex beings with hopes, dreams, fears, vulnerabilities, shame, goals, desires and longings. We want to be close to people, to feel connected, accepted, celebrated and loved. Interestingly, we tend to attach performance and/or perfection to those things... fearing that if we are not performing well or perfect, we will not feel accepted, celebrated or loved. How sad that we (many of us) have learned to weave those things together, as if our imperfections will threaten the unraveling of the entire tapestry of connection.
I sit with people in their moments of deep and scary vulnerability, gifted with the opportunity to hold space for them that allows for imperfection, stumbling over words, tears, frustrations and fear... absolutely no perfection or performance required. In fact, letting go of the need to perform allows for us to clarify and actively tend to areas that are most important to us. Our relationships with others, our relationship with ourselves, our relationship with God. I fully understand the fear of letting go of perfection... and the fear that if someone sees you in your mess you will feel disconnected and alone.
Give yourself the opportunity to show up fully in your life and in your relationships, without fear of having to perform perfectly. I think the start of 2019 presents an awesome opportunity for you to discover that new, perfection-free space. Rather than adding more tasks to your do-to list, additional goals that you'll let go of by February or rewriting the same resolutions over and over again... uncover and nurture the things that are already within you and in front of you! Perfection not required. :)
Have a wonderful, peaceful and safe new year!
As we venture into the holidays, you might be contemplating that perfect gift for your spouse or partner. It can be an a wonderful feeling to give your special person a gift that brings a smile to their face and joy to their heart. We love feeling connected in that moment like we got it right with them, even if only for that moment. Can you imagine feeling connected with your partner like that more often?
We think relationships are easy and, simply put, they're not. We think we are communicating clearly and we don't. We think our partner should be able to know what we need and they don't. There are so many elements to our dynamic that we aren't tapped into... things that are under the surface yet very much guiding our interactions with our partner. Even if you have an idea of those elements under the surface, you are likely not sharing them for fear that it will cause trouble or more distance.
Our weekend workshop for couples, called Hold Me Tight, offers a structured curriculum based on the model of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for Couples, a method that is considered the gold standard for marriage and relationship counseling. During each workshop we are blown away by the courage and willingness of couples to show up in a new way for their marriage or relationship. The workshop experience has been a game changer for many couples, bringing them to a place of feeling connected and safe in ways that had not yet before, or haven't felt with each other for a long time.
We are excited to release the date of our next weekend workshop: January 19th and 20th, 2019. If you are ready to give yourself and your partner the gift of a more connected relationship we would love to have you join us. Please see our workshop website at www.holdmetightknoxville.com for more information about the workshop and how to register. You are also welcome to contact me personally with any questions at (865) 384-2172 or through the contact page HERE.
I look forward to helping you connect!
It is interesting to me how much, as adults, we assume we know how to be in healthy committed relationships. We think it's a "no brainer" or "common sense" when, really, it is one of the most challenging things we will ever do. We are tested in all kinds of ways in our intimate relationship. We try over and over again to make things better using the same ol' skills and tricks we have been using for years and get frustrated when our partner isn't getting on our page.
Is any of this familiar?
If you weren't so ________ I wouldn't be _________!
Will you just "let it go?"
If you could just be more (or less) ________ we wouldn't BE in this situation!
Why is this coming up AGAIN?
Can you NOT be a jerk for once?
Why do you get so mad all the time?
What did I do now?
You say this EVERY single time!
You NEVER listen to me!
Why are you always on my case?
Don't you have anything to say?
I knew it... you don't really care about me.
Why is it always like this with you?
Every couple is challenged with escalated moments in their relationship from time to time and that is to be expected... we're human beings trying to love other human beings.
When it starts to feel like a problem
What becomes problematic is when these moments are happening more frequently than not and couples can't seem to find a way to get out. We get lost in those places when we are escalated and often find it hard to hear, see or understand our partner. Couples become stuck and, even when they know they love each other, still seem to not know where to go from there. When we are doing this over and over again, it can easily become exhausting for both partners... not because we stop caring but because we simply don't know what else to do.
Three key components
In Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for Couples, there are three key things that help serve as the foundation for an emotionally safe, healthy and connected relationship. These three things include:
If it helps, just remember "A.R.E."
Accessibility means that we are open to our partner approaching us and that we feel comfortable to move toward our partner with something. They let us know they are available to us and vice versa.
Responsiveness refers to answering the call. If my person moves toward me with something I will acknowledge their presence and respond. Likewise, when I call to my person, I feel confident that they will hear me and respond to my call.
Engagement is knowing that our person is interested and present with us. If I bring something to my person, I feel confident that they will engage in conversation with me and there will be dialogue. In turn, when my partner brings something to me, I will engage with them and tune into what is happening.
Take a personal inventory
When couples find themselves in a pattern of distress, it might be that something in the foundation of A.R.E. is lacking or missing. Take a look at your interactions with your partner and reflect... Am I offering A.R.E to him/her? What might I be doing or saying that would suggest I'm not Accessible, Responsive and/or Engaged with them?
At times when we are hurting, it can be really challenging to want to look at the ways we are showing up in the relationship. We become laser focused on what the other person is doing, or not doing, and how they are the problem. It goes without saying that relationships are a two-way street and there is likely something we are contributing to this cycle or pattern as well.
The more we can personally take inventory like this the sooner we can make adjustments and practice influencing positive change. If you find it is too difficult, it might be worth talking about with a professional third party (insert my smiling face here) to see what is happening in the dynamic that is contributing to feeling stuck and leaving you both unable to connect.
It's not about being perfect
Remember, whether you are doing this with a counselor or on your own at home, it is more important that you are intentionally trying to learn something new than whether you are "performing perfectly" or "getting it right." Most people respond positively when they see and feel their partner trying to grow, learn and find new ways to become close to them. It lets them know that they matter and are worth making an effort to do something different.
Have a wonderful afternoon!
Licensed Professional Counselor
9219 Middlebrook Pike
Knoxville, TN 37931