281-812-7529
A group of independent counselors serving Kingwood and Houston
Specializing in Gottman MethodTM Couples and Marriage Counseling

Posts Tagged ‘marriage workshop’

Power, Respect and Influence . . . How Does Your Relationship Rate?

Friday, February 7th, 2014

IMG 8We are just a few years short of the century anniversary of the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote. A lot has changed for women in the last 100 years and that has spilled over into changes in relationship dynamics.

For example, in the early 60s men were not allowed in the delivery room to see their children born. But now 91% not only watch, they actively participate in that special moment. When my son was born by C-section, I was being stitched up and my husband was the first to hold our bundle of joy . . . now I was the one that felt left out. Yes, the times have changed.

It’s no surprise that two income families are becoming the norm. Women outnumber men in higher education enrollment and that means they now vie for higher paying jobs.  While women still lag behind men in equal pay, men are losing their status as sole breadwinners.  A recent Pew Research analysis showed that of all married couples 24% had women as breadwinner, and that number is 30% among newlyweds.  This is up from 6% in 1960.

In his research of couples, John Gottman found that men who accept these changes are way ahead of the game in the world of parenting and relationships. They are sharing power and allowing themselves to be influences by their partner’s point of view.  Women who feel respected in this way are happier in their relationships.  And as many men say, if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

But accepting your partner’s point of view is a two-way street.  Women must allow themselves to be influenced by their husband’s point of view, especially in the area of parenting or other traditionally held female roles.  But the truth is women generally do a far better job of accepting influence from men than men do from women.

Developmental psychologists have found the roots of this  in childhood.  Girls accept influence from boys, but boys almost never accept influence from girls. This is most likely due to the fact that boys and girls are raised to manage emotions differently.  Boys learn to deal with emotion quickly and “to keep the ball in play”.  Girls “play house” and nurture baby dolls in their play, and they love playing with others. This means that when both genders come together at puberty, girls are more experienced about relationships.

Gottman’s work suggests there is a new kind of male partner that is emerging, one that is adapting to these changes.  The new male has reset his priorities and is turning towards relationships.

When men have a hard time accepting influence they say “no” and try to hang onto their power.  They become obstacles in the relationship.  They dismiss their wives needs and emotions and become righteously indignant.  And they also become lonely.

We are living in a world-wide revolution that is trying to correct the imbalance that has been historically there for women.  As women become more psychologically and economically empowered they no longer accept feeling powerless or stuck in unfulfilling relationships.

How are you doing with accepting influence in your relationship? If your relationship needs some overhauling in this area, work with a Certified Gottman Therapist or attend a Gottman Couples Workshop (our next workshop is February 15-16).

Mary Beth George, MEd, LPC, RD/LD

Certified Gottman Therapist

(281) 812-7529

Houston (Kingwood), TX

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What To Do for Valentine’s Day When Your Relationship Is on the Rocks

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

broken heartbroken heartbroken heartbroken heartThere’s no avoiding it . . . heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, a sea of red and pink greeting cards, ads for diamond jewelry and tents of roses are assaulting us at every turn.

To those newly in love, Valentine’s Day is a day full of sweetness and romance.  For long-term, stable couples it’s usually a pleasant but perfunctory gesture.  But for those in struggling relationships, it is a painful reminder of what is no longer.

For couples not exactly “feeling it” but not ready to throw in the towel, searching for the right Valentine card is overwhelming.  Mushy cards are out.  Humorous cards mock your struggles.   Blank cards to write your own loving sentiment make your stomach tie up in knots.  ”Forgetting” to get a card feels like a slap in the face.

Just this morning I read an article by a so-called marriage expert on how to handle the Valentine’s day-struggling-couples issue.  He suggested finding the right card that doesn’t gush but says I love you, a token of that love (truffles, perhaps) and avoid trying to win over your partner over with your gift.  He said you know your partner well, so get exactly the right thing that will remind them of the love you once shared.  Oh and one more thing, put aside your feelings about how your partner handles cards and gifts . . . after all this is the day to express your love.

The problem with advice like this is that is suggesting that avoidance is the route to coping with loss of romance and passion.  It implies that a token can transmit your deeper thoughts and feelings, that you don’t need to communicate your wants and needs because you and your partner are so connected that you will select the right gift  to tug at their heartstrings.

Ok, maybe if you are from a Vulcan blood line you can do the whole mind meld thing and words are not necessary, but trust me, if friendship, passion and romance are fading, the kids or co-workers will get the truffles and he or she will run over that token of love with the SUV.

Let’s be honest, what struggling couples really want is their friendship back, because it is through friendship that the flames of passion and romance are re-ignited.   They want to be heard, understood, appreciated and emotionally connected to their partner.  They want the fights and negativity to end.  They crave physical affection.

So if you are struggling, what is so wrong with reaching out to your partner and saying “Valentine’s Day is hard for me, it reminds me of how we used to be.  All I really want is to feel connected to you again.  Would you be willing to work on that?”

Sure, it feels risky to make yourself vulnerable and ask your partner to work on things.  But doing nothing means that the relationship will continue to erode . . . and that’s not what you really want.

If you or your partner are resistant to the therapist’s couch, a couples workshop may feel safer.  In our Art & SCIENCE of Love Couples Weekend Workshop, there is artscience-300x223no public disclose of your issues.  It is not therapy, yet you still work on skills to build friendship and manage conflict.  The workshop yields similar results to six months of couples therapy and 86% of couples who have attended the workshop report positive outcomes.

Two days spent communicating and connecting with your partner could change the trajectory of your relationship . . . and end the Valentine’s Day struggle once and for all.

Mary Beth George, MEd, LPC

Certified Gottman Therapist

 

This is Your Brain in Love

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Who doesn’t love the feeling of falling in love?  The newness of love relationships is like no other feeling . . . when we are in love, all is right with the world.  We see things with greater appreciation, we are highly motivated and we never want that feeling to end.

Biologically speaking, many changes occur in our brains when we fall in love.  Hormones (oxytocin, DHEA, testosterone, etc.) are released and make falling  in love very pleasurable, almost addictive.  Oxytocin is sometimes called the cuddle hormone because it is associated with bonding.   It helps mothers bond with their babies but it is also secreted during orgasm.  Having an orgasm with someone changes how you feel.

Oxytocin also creates bad judgment.  It shuts down the amygdala and we are not as afraid to take risks.  If you have a lot of orgasms early in relationship, before knowing someone, it can lead to bad decisions.  There was actually a Swiss study done where they sprayed oxytocin or saline in people’s noses.  Study subjects were given the option to invest money through an anonymous trustee.  Typically investors are cautious with their money, but this study showed that the oxytocin group threw caution to the wind.  In other words, when we are falling in love we think we can trust the other person!

The second phase of love is actual trust building.  All arguments early in relationships are about building trust.  Can I trust you will be monogamous?  Will you be good with money?  Will you put me first?  Trust is all about being able to say my partner has my back and is there for me.

Once trust is developed then we can move on to the third phase, commitment.  This where we stop comparing and thinking we could do better.  We cherish what we have rather than focus on what we don’t have.  Commitment is believing (and acting on the belief) that this relationship is one’s life journey . . . for better or for worse.

In long term, happy relationships what we find is that couples fall in love over and over again.  ALL relationships have rough spots and they traverse through time, but the key is to continually renew the relationship and keep the love alive.

Mary Beth George, MEd, LPC, RD/LD

Certified Gottman Therapist

 

“We Need Couples Counseling and My Partner Won’t Go” – 5 Strategies to Try

Friday, September 13th, 2013

We are on the brink of divorce and I can’t get my husband (or wife, or life partner) to go to marriage counseling?  What can I do?

Believe it or not, distressed couples wait an average of SIX years before seeking the help of a marriage counselor.  Unaware of the slow erosion that is taking place, they don’t notice the Four Horsemen of the Apocalyse have set up camp in their home.  Oh, they may know they have some degree of unhappiness, but they keep waiting for the other person to change to get the relationship back on track.

When the fog begins to lift and one partner accepts that the relationship simply is not working, they have an AHA moment and begin googling couples counselors.  Finding a few names they are sure their partner will want to dispel their pain with the help of an experienced therapist.  When they are met with There’s no way in hell I am airing our dirty laundry in front of a therapist.  I had a previous bad experience in counseling and I don’t believe in therapy, a sense of panic sets in.

If your partner is resistant to therapy, all hope is not gone yet.  Try the following:

  1. Stop making your partners flaws the main reason you need counseling.  Take ownership over your feelings and say things like I am so sad that we have become so distant.  I miss who we used to be as a couple.  Please go to counseling with me so we can get our happiness back.
  2. Ask your partner to go to ONE session.  Many times resistant partners will relax with an experienced therapist and agree to join in the process.
  3. If your partner is using the cost of counseling as a reason to not go, check with your insurance company.  Many plans cover marriage/family counseling.  It is possible that you have this as a covered benefit and will only have to pay a copay.  Or your employer may offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and you can get a few free sessions.  Check with your Human Resources Department.
  4. Consider a couples workshop or marriage retreat, like The Art & Science of Love.  This Gottman Method workshop is ideal for resistant partners because itimage004 (2013_06_02 20_47_53 UTC) is not therapy, although the effects are like having six months of couples’ therapy.  The workshop is educational, research based and there is no public disclosure.
  5. Go to counseling on your own.  While nothing replaces the dynamic setting of couples counseling where both partners are working on issues, individual counseling may be of some benefit.  You will have a safe environment to explore your feelings.  If you are truly willing to work on the relationship, you will begin to take ownership over how your behavior has contributed to negative patterns.  A word of caution though, individual counseling that is just used for venting or trashing your partner will not be effective, and in fact, can be harmful to the relationship.

If after trying these things and your partner is still unwilling to get help, you might be faced with the fact they are unwilling to work on the relationship.  Not only are they avoiding the therapist’s couch, they are avoiding working on it in any form or fashion.  This can be a painful realization and you may want to seek individual counseling.

Mary Beth George, MEd, LPC, RD/LD

Certified Gottman Therapist

Avoiding Relationship Killers (aka Premarital Counseling)

Friday, March 15th, 2013

One of the things I most love about my job is doing pre-marital counseling.  There is no better time to learn the secrets of keeping your friendship, passion and love alive.

While spending time and money on couples counseling when you are blissfully happy doesn’t seem necessary, giving yourself the gift of a personal relationship coach is an investment in a happy future.

You may be busy making final arrangements for the big day.  Even if you are not planning a wedding, you and your partner may be discussing living together.  If this is the case it means that you believe you have found a partner that you want to commit to and look forward to the good feelings continuing and growing stronger.

Sadly, about half of couples that marry end their relationship in divorce.  On the average, couples wait six years before seeking help for marital problems.  It is much easier to PREVENT big relationship problems from occurring rather than trying to repair them after they are in full force.  In other words, counseling is more effective when you are in the honeymoon phase and happy.

For love birds who  want to ensure a happy future, look for pre-marital counseling that covers the following:

  1. In-depth relationship assessment to see if there are any trouble spots or to let you know what areas are strengths in your relationship
  2. Advice you can use today to avoid the pitfalls so many couples make in the first years of marriage, including communication skills
  3. How to process any argument successfully and get closer at the same time.
  4. How to take breaks when you are emotionally overwhelmed and how to make repairs in your relationship.
  5. Avoiding the predictors of divorce 
  6. Learn techniques to maintain the fun, with rituals of connection.
  7. The secrets to increasing romance, intimacy, and passion in the relationship.
  8. The art of compromise and how to honor your partner’s dreams.

Premarital counseling is truly is the best gift a couple can give themselves as they embark on their happy future together.

Mary Beth George, Med, LPC, RD/LD

 

 

 


Couples Counseling and Psychotherapy Associates provides service to Kingwood, Humble, Atascocita, Porter, Fall Creek, Summerwood, North Houston and surrounding areas.

Couples Counseling & Psychotherapy Associates

2330 Timber Shadows Drive
Suite 106
Kingwood, Texas 77339
Ph: 281-812-7529

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