If you are anything like me, you feel like you blink and another day is done. No where is this more evident for me than in my marriage. Years fly by and sometimes we can find ourselves married and functioning but lacking good, meaningful emotional intimacy and connection. One of the ways we can build and refresh our marriage is by thinking chronologically. Try communicating with your spouse in the following spheres.
Start by looking back
What drew you to your spouse? What did you like to do when you were dating or early married? What are some of your favorite memories together? What are some times when you laughed together?
Create a timeline of significant events
Go through each year of marriage and write significant things that happened in those years and reflect with each other on how you felt about the marriage and what you were going through. Talk about how those things have gotten you where you are now and have affected your marriage.
Talk with your spouse about what is going well right now in the marriage.
What do you currently love about them? In what ways have you seen positive growth in them? What is something could you do right now to show your love? How can you make time for them in this season?
Commit to spending 15 minutes in conversation this week.
Be truly present with them.
Looking Ahead Together
Dream together even if it will never happen.
What would you love to do one day separately and together? What do you hope to work towards together?
Create a mission statement as a couple
Write what you hope your marriage is “known for” and practical steps to achieve that and reassess once a year.
Commit to spending at least 1 hour together each week to talk through the “deeper” things and connect with one another.
Commit to planning a date night together at least once a month. Take turns planning to make it a surprise or plan together.
Commit to doing at least 1 overnight date a year.
Looking forward, being present, and looking ahead can help give your marriage that refresh that it may need. If you need further help “getting out of the rut” in your marriage, our licensed clinicians can help.
When we were toasting to a new year on January 1, who would have thought we’d spend most of 2020 quarantining and social distancing due to a global pandemic? I certainly didn’t. It has brought couples and families together for better or for worse. There have been unexpected financial burdens, medical crises in your family, and hours of home schooling. We have mastered Zoom, Skype, and every other virtual communication platform to connect us to colleagues, families, and friends. Although we may feel there is too much togetherness at times, we are still longing for CONNECTION.
In a time with so much uncertainty, we still want to be seen, heard, and valued. When both partners are working from home, you may feel there is constant communication.
But is it meaningful communication? Our computers and cell phones are our link to the outside world. Longing for normalcy and for connection outside of our family, we have become addicted to our phones. So, put down your phone and spend quality with your significant other!
Have a picnic dinner by candlelight
Make some sandwiches or order take-out. Throw a blanket on the floor and enjoy each other’s company.
Bake cookies and deliver them to an elderly neighbor. Find a ministry collecting canned goods and clean out the boxed / canned items from your pantry.
Pull out the board games
Have some friendly competition. Play three games – and the (winner) best of three gets a backrub from the one who loses.
Get your hands dirty
Start a winter vegetable garden. Use your herbs or vegetables when you cook a meal together.
Bring out the pencil and paper
Sketch each other. Pay attention to each other’s details as you draw the portraits. Clothes optional.
We may be longing for normalcy, for the life we had pre-COVID-19. But we were exhausted and disconnected. Cherish this time of less obligations and less distractions. Cherish the simplicity. Let’s connect, REALLY connect. May we all remember what it means to really embrace the ones we love, and may this become our new normal.
If you need help connecting with your spouse in a meaningful way, contact one of our licensed therapists.
Hearing is something we do every day.
We hear the sound of a lawnmower or the sound of a beeping car horn. Our sense of hearing is not necessarily something that we can just “turn off” – it’s involuntary.
On the other hand, active listening is about tuning in to a conversation with motivation and purpose. Active listeners tune in with an intention to connect and participate in a conversation – not just hear.
Active listening can help nourish meaningful relationships in your life. Use these 3 tips that can help you become a more active listener in your relationships.
Master Nonverbal Communication
Nonverbal conversation has a lot of deep meaning. You can learn to read and use body language in ways that help build better relationships. Eye contact, facial expressions, gestures, and posture affect the way you are communicating.
These nonverbal cues can signal interest, affection, or hostility without saying a word. Before you engage in a conversation, think about all of your nonverbal cues and what they communicate.
Put down your cell phone and shut off the TV! Active listening is about making a conscious decision to hear what people are saying. It’s about being completely focused on others—their words and their messages—without being distracted.
Active listeners can tune out distractions and noise to tune into the conversation at hand. In its most basic form, active listening is when someone is listening for meaning and feeling and not just content. When you eliminate background noise and distractions you are signaling that the conversation (and your relationship) is a priority.
Mindfulness is an essential part of active listening. When you are mindful, you make a conscious decision to focus on the moment at hand. Mindfulness helps you focus on the here and now which is an especially important skill set. We’re so often triggered by words the words we hear that it’s hard for us to understand what’s really being said.
Remember that mastering communication and the art of active listening is something that takes work in any relationship. The good news is that it’s an achievable goal.
At Foundations Family Therapy, we provide counseling to help strengthen relationships. Whether you are trying to work through something small or on the brink of divorce, counseling can help if you and your partner are ready to work on your relationship. Give us a call today!
Too busy for date night?
It might be time to rethink your priorities! Couples who commit to spending time together build greater levels of intimacy and trust, better communication, and higher marital satisfaction in general.
The good news is you don’t have to go on an expensive trip to even leave Raleigh. Here are 5 creative date-night ideas that will help you reconnect.
Videri Chocolate Factory
Did you know there’s a Chocolate Factory in Raleigh that’s free to visit? Make a day date to take a self-guided tour through the factory during their chocolate-making hours (M-F from 10am -3pm). Sit down for some conversation at the chocolate counter and enjoy a hot or frozen hot chocolate from the coffee bar.
Sarah P Duke Gardens
Book a trolley tour and ride along the winding paths of the beautiful gardens. Take in all of nature’s beauty in a romantic setting where you can let the stress melt away while you can reconnect and learn more about the rich history of a local treasure. Don’t forget to take a selfie to hang on your fridge to remember the day!
If you’re looking for romance For a more romantic setting, stroll down Lafayette Village and take in all this village-style shopping mall has to offer. Have a leisurely lunch and hit up some of the great local shops.
You can’t go wrong with the classic date night of dinner and a movie! The Rialto is the perfect place to check out indie movies in a vintage-style theater. Kick back with some popcorn and enjoy the theater.
FRESH. Local Icecream
Who doesn’t love icecream? FRESH ice cream is the perfect treat any time of day. They produce ice cream right here in their store for you to enjoy. Even if you can’t carve out time for a long dinner date, try carving out 15 minutes to enjoy a cone together.
Whatever you decide for your next date, approach your couples time as an opportunity to connect no matter how briefly.
Even though every relationship has its own strengths and weakness, there are many couples would rank “communication” as a major weakness in their marriage.
Some couples might engage in heated conversations that involve cursing, yelling, and degrading comments while others might give each other the silent treatment. In both instances, the couples are “communicating” but they are not communicating effectively or in the best interest of the relationship.
Conversation is an invitation into someone’s world and a chance to build intimacy in the relationship. So how can we communicate more effectively with our spouse?
This is the first and most critical aspect of a good relationship and good communication. Humility in communication looks like giving your spouse the “benefit of the doubt” that they are trying to hear you, care for you, and respond to you the best way they know-how.
If each person in the relationship humbles themselves to believe that maybe they could improve their communication and that their spouse is not looking for bad intentions in their communication, a lot of ground can be gained by changing our own attitudes.
Engage In Active Listening
In active listening, the person is listening for meaning and feeling and not just content. The listener is not just waiting to respond, but takes on the mindset of “my only job is to hear, understand, and determine how you are feeling and the meaning behind what you are telling me”.
In its most basic form, active listening involves eye contact, listening for inflection in the conversation, and reflecting some basic feelings or words the person is saying to show you are listening. Before responding, summarize what you hear your spouse telling you.
For example, after a hard day, you might summarize and reflect “wow, so your boss yelled at you and you felt frustrated and anxious”. This gives your spouse the opportunity to correct you if you did not get their feeling or meaning correct and shows that not only did you hear their story but you can empathize with them.
Remember: content is only one part. It will be much less effective if you respond by saying “so your boss yelled at you?” It might feel weird at first, but it will do wonders for your relationship.
Set aside uninterrupted time to talk
We all live busy, digital lives but setting aside time each day (or every couple of days if we’re honest), to sit with our spouse and just talk about something meaningful, hopes, dreams, feelings, insecurities, or disappointments is crucial.
In a world where we can text our spouse all day and not have any intimacy or depth in the communication, it is so vital to make eye contact without screens and engage with one another.
If you need help, start by asking a good open-ended question, like…
“What do you like best about our relationship right now?”
“Is there anything you wish was different about our marriage?”
“What is a way I can support you and show you love right now in a meaningful way?”
“Are you struggling with or dreading anything right now?”
The idea is to move beyond the surface-level conversation. Try to connect with your spouse’s thoughts and feelings.
Find time to be with your spouse and do something you enjoy. This will help improve communication and your desire to be with one another. Make time for one another and laugh together! Sometimes, good memories and laughing together really is the best medicine.
Ever notice how time seems to slow down when you’re waiting for something? An hour still consists of 60 minutes but the minutes feel like hours and the hours like days!
Time is constantly passing. However, this concept goes to show that depression and anxiety can really throw off our sense of time. The take us out of the moment (mindfulness) and move us into the realm of “what ifs” and “should haves“.
For those women and couples facing fertility issues, waiting for time to pass is one of the most distressing and challenging hurdles one can face in life.
The two-week wait (generally defined as the time from ovulation to confirmed pregnancy) can really take a toll on your emotional well-being if you are trying to conceive. Women can become hyperaware of their bodies constantly asking themselves, “Am I pregnant?”
Infertility & Mental Wellness
When we talk about infertility treatment, you probably think about physical treatments like IVF, IUI, and other medical options. But, society sometimes neglects the emotional toll infertility can cause. Couples who can’t conceive might be left with feelings of disappointment, anxiety, sadness, and frustration month after month.
Thankfully, there are many treatments that can help struggling women and
couples who need help getting pregnant. These medical appointments and decisions only add to the stress and uncertainty surrounding infertility.
Some women might even feel out of control of their own bodies which can spark continual feelings of loss, sadness, depression, and anxiety.
Infertility By The Numbers
We need to lift the stigma that stands in the way of building families because infertility doesn’t discriminate.
• 7.3 Million: Number of women aged 15-44 who have ever used infertility services: 7.3 million (source CDC)
• Infertility affects men and women equally (source: reporductivefacts.org)
• Twenty-five percent of infertile couples have more than one factor that contributes to
their infertility (source: reproductivefacts.org)
• Up to 13 percent of female infertility is caused by cigarette smoking
• Infertility is common. Out of 100 couples in the United States, about 12 to 13 of them have trouble becoming pregnant
It’s important that those facing infertility know where to turn for emotional support during one of life’s toughest challenges. Perhaps you’re heartbroken at yet another negative pregnancy test, and you don’t understand why everyone around you can get pregnant but you haven’t been able to. Maybe you’re struggling with guilt over the choice to terminate a pregnancy and you’re not sure you can forgive yourself or move forward.
Wherever you’re at in your journey of loss, you would want to feel better and, to have the pain go away to make sense of your situation. Therapy could help you process your feelings and thoughts in a safe space with a caring provider that can help you walk through the grieving process.
You don’t have to suffer alone. You can move forward with hope. We’re here for you!
Think about all of the ways your life is enriched through your relationships.
Whether romantically involved or bound by friendship, relationships help provide essential support and nourishment in life.
It’s no secret that relationships require work. They are mutually transformative and grow over time but not without setbacks or challenges.
Successful relationships are based on balance and mutual support making clear communication absolutely necessary.
Relationships are so complex and take finetuning along the path to growth and fulfillment. Here are a few ways Couple’s Therapy can help benefit any relationship.
You Can Learn About Your Partner’s Emotional Needs
Known in the therapy world as EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapy), this type of therapy specifically focuses on the individual emotional patterns of both people in the relationship. The goal of EFT is to create a secure and trustworthy bond that results in a healthier, happier bond.
Therapy can improve communication so both partners feel heard and understood. It can help couples navigate the complexity of decision-making and goal-setting ensuring each person is making a compromise.
Diving into your history as a couple as well as your individual histories is important. It helps you better understand what specific issues mean to each of you. This will help couples identify and share feelings.
You’ll Gain A Non-judgmental Third Party Perspective
When you are part of the relationship, it’s hard to remove yourself from it and view it without bias. Couple’s Therapy offers professional third party guidance, support, and advice that can help repair or refresh a relationship.
Often times, a therapist understands what you are trying to convey and offers a clear and understandable translation to your partner. Because relationships are built on trust and communication, it’s important to understand how to communicate effectively.
Couples Therapy can help overcome communication obstacles by developing a greater understanding of each other.
You Can Discuss A Variety of Topics
There are a variety of elements that cause strain on a relationship. Couple’s Therapy at Foundations Family Therapy is designed to help couples open up and discuss specific elements of their relationship. It provides a healthy way to analyze individual communication styles, personalities, ambitions, personal values and goals, finances, and conflict resolution.
There is no magic formula that can fix a broken relationship but at Foundations Family Therapy, we’re here to help you reconnect. We help couples connect in a supportive environment at our comfortable Fuquay-Varina and Raleigh offices.
Our couples therapy clients report feeling like their partners understand them better, respect them more, and support them after therapy.
Strengthen your relationship today!
This week is recognized as National Suicide Prevention Week and The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is helping spread awareness with their theme, ‘The Power of Connection.’ This is a wonderful theme considering we connect as humans through meaningful relationships.
Connection at a deeper level in a healthy relationship plays a huge role in your ability to thrive in life for many reasons.
Healthy relationships provide support and connection.
They build over time which helps people grow stronger together. They provide security and stability which can give us a great sense of purpose in life. True relationships help build our wellbeing by acting as a safe haven for our thoughts and feelings. As a result, a good relationships helps us know we are understood. This helps us to open up about both positive and negative experiences in life.
Relationships also inspire compassion.
Good relationships generate feelings of compassion and empathy. We learn to care deeply for those we love. If you’ve ever been in a relationship, then you know it’s a two-way street. It’s great to have someone to confide in but it’s equally important to listen. Your compassion in a relationship can help your loved one find optimism and relief.
Happiness is another great benefit of being in a solid relationship.
Science actually tells us that giving freely creates joy! Studies show that giving is one of they keys to happiness. In fact, when you give your time, energy and love to someone you care deeply about, you’ll feel happy and fulfilled in return. Your happiness will help you function well and, chances are, it might even spread to others in your life.
Of course not all relationships are healthy and happy. Some experience rough patches that need a little guidance. We are all imperfect individuals coming together trying to connect, engage, and balance multiple goals, dreams, and demands.
What we really crave in a healthy relationship is connection, support, love, and acceptance. Let a member of our team help you start thriving in life and the relationships that matter most. Give us a call today!
If you’ve experienced an extremely stressful or disturbing event that’s left you feeling hopeless and emotionally unstable, you may have been traumatized. Emotional trauma can leave you struggling with difficult emotions, memories, flashbacks and anxiety that won’t go away. Trauma can also leave you feeling numb and disconnected from others. It’s not something you can just “get over”. Healing from emotional trauma is a process. Luckily, there are things you can do to speed up your recovery.
Step One: Reestablish a Routine
After a traumatic event, getting back to a routine can help speed up the healing process. There’s comfort in the familiar. Even if your professional routine is disrupted from the trauma, try to establish a new normal with things like eating, sleeping and spending time with others who support you.
Step Two: Get Moving
Physical activity has many proven health benefits. It can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, and memory loss. Exercise works as an instant mood boost which is essential when recovering from trauma. Burn off adrenaline and release endorphins that lead to healthy, holistic healing. This is why we offer yoga at our Trauma Center in Raleigh specifically designed for healing trauma.
Step Three: Stay Connected
Healthy relationships, group activities, and social events are beneficial to those healing from trauma. The most important thing is NOT to isolate. You might fell unsure about others. Some emotional trauma sufferers are unable to trust others. Support and open communication are essential in healing.
Step Four: Eat Right
Food is fuel for your body. Your thoughts and feelings can be affected by what you eat. The gut-brain connection is an essential part of overall wellness. Your gut and brain are connected through millions of nerves. Fermented foods (like yogurt) and Omega-3 fats are great choices to help ensure your gut-brain connection runs smoothly.
Step Five: Join a Support Group
You don’t have to suffer alone. Our Trauma Center in Raleigh, NC, offers specific support and healing for those who suffer from trauma. Work with a professional who can help you heal. Our team can help you gain freedom from your struggles.
Learn more about our Trauma Recovery Center and the programs available for holistic healing.