Five therapists’ #1 tip for couples-River City Counseling

The primary intent of my blog has been to advise parents on how best to navigate the world of parenting adolescents. In this entry, I’m deviating from this to focus solely on couples (minus their kids.) With this in-mind, I asked some of the best marriage/relationship counselors I know to share in 100 words or less (give or take a few) their #1 tip when working with couples. Their tips are diverse and wise, and it’s fair to say that I’ll borrow freely from them in my work. I hope you, too, find these tips to be useful.

I’m fortunate that too many of my peers responded to my request for help for just one blog. Next time, more tips.

Should you want further information about these therapists, I’ve included their contact information. _______________________________________________________________________________________

This is from Ken Siegmann. He can be reached at: www.insight-counseling.org.

In a disagreement it’s often the case that you can be right or you can have peace. But you can’t always have both. Choose peace. Whatever you’re disagreement about, it’s usually not worth the harm you may do by insisting on being right. Also, you don’t have to show up for every fight you’re invited to. If things start to get loud or escalated, it’s Ok to say something like “I really can’t participate in this, but I’m available to talk about it when we’re both calm.” Make sure you say it with kindness and gentleness. Whatever frustration you both may experience will be much less than you would by continuing to escalate until someone feels really hurt.
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This is from Debra J Totton. She can be reached at: www.calimesacounseling.com.

Make a choice to love that person. Love (the feeling) will wax and wane while love the decision will remain strong.
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This is from Jennifer Hayes. She can be reached at: www.jenniferhayestherapy.com.

I’m not exactly sure if I have a #1.  It’s kind of dependent on the clients. But I think a really important one is that each person needs to try to make the relationship a fun place to be. So often when things are hard the relationship just becomes a hard, stressful, sad place to be. Who wants to hang out there? Make it a fun, feel good place to be, in addition to working things out. Also, it helps them remember why they like each other. By the way, this is also a good thing to think about with kids-if you want them to hang with the family, make the family someplace they might want to hang rather than full of strife.

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This is from Catherine Zanzi. She can be reached at: www.findhopeagain.com.

Make an effort every day to sincerely show gratitude for something your partner has done or said. We usually find what we look for. Look for the good.
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This is from Jeannette Phelan. She can be reached at: www.phelantherapy.com.

Empathy and validation! Validating where your partner is coming from, even if you don’t agree with it, does wonders for communication and conflict resolution. Most couples can recite back what their partners have said to them, but lack the necessary combination of empathy and validation to help their partner feel “heard”. And, most couples believe that “validation” means that you agree with where your partner is coming from, even if you don’t! When couples are struggling, I often hear “He never listens!” or “she just keeps arguing until I shut up or walk away!” leaving most partners feeling empty and hurt, and certainly not “heard”. By attempting to understand where your partner is coming from, how they drew a particular conclusion to a series of events or communications, allows you to demonstrate an empathetic response that can help diffuse a heated situation. This might look like, “I’m not saying I agree with your position, but I can certainly understand how you might come to these conclusions!” to be followed by, “Here’s where I’m coming from…”

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Since we therapists don’t have all the answers, I’d also love to hear from you. What’s your #1 tip? What works well with your spouse/partner?

2 Responses to Five therapists’ #1 tip for couples-River City Counseling
  1. elizabeth
    October 8, 2013 | 5:35 pm

    The proper balance of stability and excitement is important for a good marriage. Having as much fun as possible is important. Look good, not sloppy around your spouse. Ladies don’t be afraid of a little lipstick. Doing things with other couples is an enhancement. Men love a women who is a good cook and feeds them delicious meals all the time…Ask each other questions about their day……Put aside some funds for date nights….If you are angry or fearful a lot find a good therapist. Nice to go to church together. Be of good character and resist temptation. If you find your spouse to be of dubious morality, split before you have children….We will be married 50 years next year…..

    Will be married 50 years next year………

  2. elizabeth
    October 8, 2013 | 5:38 pm

    Additionally women can really sometimes be really grumpy and critical to their husbands. Husbands love a cheerful, pleasant, fun loving wife and women love the same in their husband….Generally though I think women set the tone.

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