Is your relationship healthy?

Couple not talking

Unhappy relationship.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

What should you look for in a healthy relationship?

It’s easy to spot an unhealthy relationship. The couple never gets along. They fight about everything, and there’s a lot of collateral damage when they fight. When there is an unhappy relationship, family, friends, and even the children wish this couple would call it quits. But just because there are no outside signs of conflict doesn’t mean that this is a healthy relationship.

The notion that in healthy relationships, there are never any conflicts is a myth. The idea that people in a good relationship are soulmates who need to be together continually isn’t accurate either. To have a healthy relationship, there needs to be a balance of togetherness and individuality. People in a healthy relationship do have disagreements and conflicts, but they can solve them without harming each other or the relationship. Here are some of the signs of a healthy relationship.

There are no topics you can’t talk about.

Are you able to talk about what’s on your mind? In a good relationship, there are no topics that are taboo. You shouldn’t have to censor what you say to your partner. That doesn’t mean that rude or hurtful comments are okay. In healthy relationships, you can talk to your partner about anything, you don’t have to feel like you’re walking on eggshells, but you need to say things respectfully.

You can still be you while being a part of an “us.”

Being in a couple-relationship involves a balancing of the individual and the couple. In the early stages of getting together, couples typically go through a period during which they can’t get enough of each other. In the early stages, they want to spend every minute together. But for the relationship to develop, the two people need to reach a point where each of them can be a separate “me” while still being a part of “us.”

Not being able to transition from creating an “us” to balancing your individual needs and interests with the things you do together as a couple can result in an unhealthy relationship. If your partner is pathologically jealous and doesn’t want you to do anything or go anywhere without them, that’s not love. Not allowing your partner to have separate feelings and interests creates severe problems in a relationship.

You can disagree without hurting each other.

In a healthy relationship, you can disagree. You don’t feel the need to force your partner to change their thinking. If disagreement threatens you or your partner, it’s a good indication that this is an unhealthy relationship.

You look for solutions, not who’s right.

“Right fighting” continuing arguments to prove that you’re right and your partner is wrong, is both a sign of and a cause of unhealthy relationships. In healthy relationships, you can look for “win-win” solutions. If you feel the need to fight to the bitter end and approach every conflict thinking that one of you must be right and the other is wrong, you’re not in a healthy relationship.

You don’t have to change each other.

Getting into a relationship, expecting your partner to change leads to incredible conflict. If either one of you feels that your partner needs to change for this to be a good relationship, you’re headed in a terrible direction. Certainly, people do change both when they get into relationships and when they lead them. There’s plenty of room for both personal growth and growth as a couple. But if you’ve convinced yourself that your partner needs to change for you to be happy, you need to take another look at yourself.

You don’t need something to happen to be happy.

The belief that something must happen and then the two of you can be happy together is a sign of an unhealthy relationship. If you’re not satisfied and not getting along, thinking that having a child, moving to a different city, or getting a new job will fix this are likely signs that this is not a healthy relationship. If you don’t enjoy the process of where you are going, you’re very likely to be disappointed when you get to your destination.

You make decisions together.

Every couple evolves how they handled decision-making. If your relationship is characterized by one person having all the power and control, and they make all the decisions regardless of what you think, this is an unhealthy relationship.

Your relationship creates more joy than pain.

Every relationship has some problematic patches. But if the bulk of your time with your partner is painful and you struggle to hold on to small patches of joy, you’re in an unhealthy relationship. The joyous times should far outweigh the pain.

You’re able to divide up the duties fairly.

There are myriad ways in which couples divide up duties. I read somewhere that 50-50 marriages do not work. Generally, each person in a relationship feels they are doing more than half the work. But when you step back and look at it, both of you need to agree that there’s a fair distribution of the duties.

You appreciate your partner and feel appreciated.

If you don’t appreciate your partner and they never show you appreciation, this is not a healthy relationship. Knowing that each of you cares about the other helps the health of the relationship. Couples who expressed their appreciation for each other build their relationship. Taking each other for granted is a sign your relationship suffers from ill-health.

In a healthy relationship, you trust each other.

In healthy relationships, people trust each other. If you don’t trust your partner, it can feel like you’re living with the enemy. Sometimes something has happened in the relationship to make one partner distrusts the other. If that’s happened, you need to be working on rebuilding that trust. If you came into the relationship with “trust issues,” this is your issue, and you need to be working on it. People with trust issues may need to seek individual counseling. Healthy relationships are characterized by high levels of trust and acceptance for each other.

Neither of you holds on to resentments.

Resentments poison relationships. The resentments you harbor that you haven’t been able to release prevents you from being happy. Both people in a relationship need to be working on getting rid of their resentments. Unhealthy relationships are characterized by high levels of resentment on both party’s parts.

The two of you are emotionally intimate.

In romantic relationships, physical intimacy helps build the couple’s relationship. But physical intimacy by itself is not enough. Healthy relationships need to include emotional closeness. If you don’t feel you can share your feelings with your partner, this is a sign of an unhealthy relationship.

You feel safe when you’re with your partner.

Your partner should make you feel safe, and you should make them feel secure. Any relationship where someone feels unsafe is inherently unhealthy.

You can talk to each other about anything.

Open communication is essential for a healthy relationship. You should be able to talk with your partner about anything. That doesn’t mean your partner needs to agree with either your thinking or your feelings, but they should be open to hearing what you need to say. If there are things your partner wants to talk about that you don’t want to hear, you probably have work to do on yourself.

You both make repair efforts.

In healthy relationships, whenever there are problems, both parties need to make repair efforts. If you or your partner are holding onto grudges, unwilling to give in or even to discuss possible solutions, these are all signs that this is an unhealthy relationship.

You appreciate them and know they appreciate you.

Being appreciated and giving appreciation are not just nice things to have. High levels of appreciation flowing in both directions are essential for a healthy relationship.

While none of these characteristics are inherently all or nothing, each of the things I’ve described above is a good indicator of the health of your relationship. If your relationship is unhealthy, or simply not as healthy as you would like, you’ll need to decide if you are willing to work on yourself and work on your relationship with your partner. If you’ve discovered you’re in an unhealthy relationship, consider getting professional help either for the two of you or for each of you individually. Please don’t spend the rest of your life in an unhealthy relationship wishing that it would somehow miraculously change. Professional help is available for relationships and individual emotional problems.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Signs of a healthy relationship.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Couple

Good Relationship.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Is your relationship healthy, or are you headed for trouble?

Every relationship has its ups and downs. Those happy, feel-good movies always seem to end at the wedding. With more than half of all marriages ending in divorce and a lot of people moving in and out of relationships without ever marrying, what will tell if your relationship is headed in the right direction?

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the way to tell if your relationship is happy is to take a hard look at your partner. In most failed relationships, both parties believe the problem was the other person. To predict a good relationship, take a hard look at yourself and see how you may have changed as a part of this relationship.

Who you are isn’t a fixed commodity. While some likes and dislikes may be with you for a lifetime, many people find their personality changes gradually across the lifespan. We change because of life experiences, new learning, and we often change in relationships. While primary sexual relationships may change people in easily identifiable ways, your relationship with your children, your boss, and coworkers can also impact how you see yourself.

Liking yourself is a sign of a healthy relationship.

If you found that your self-confidence and self-esteem have declined since you been in this relationship, that’s a bad sign. While every relationship has its challenges and fluctuations, your interactions with your partner should leave you feeling loved and supported, not worthless.

You have done or are doing your own work is a good sign.

When couples come for marriage counseling, they often complain that the problem is their communication. While that’s sometimes true, more often, the problem is neither one of them has worked on themselves. The most troublesome issues in relationships are often the baggage people brought with them when they moved in together.

If you got into the relationship expecting that your partner would fix you and make you happy, you’re headed for disappointment. People with this point of view often get into another relationship as quickly as they can, thinking that changing partners will fix them. Two sick people don’t make for a healthy relationship. Both parties in a relationship should be working on their own issues and improving together, not expecting their partner to make them okay.

If your partner is okay the way they are, that’s a good sign.

If you enter a relationship telling yourself that you will change them or planning that your partner will need to change in some way, even if that partner says they’re willing, you’re headed in the wrong direction. Under stress, people revert to their customary behavior. Life can be stressful especially when you’re in a close intimate relationship. If you’re starting out thinking your partner will need to change for this to work, think again.

You’re not threatened if your partner disagrees with you about something.

Nobody’s perfect, and everybody may disagree. But if you continuously are finding fault with your partner, look at yourself and why you selected a partner like that. If having your partner disagrees threatens your self-esteem, that’s not a good sign for either of you or the relationship. People in healthy relationships can work through issues together. They can agree to disagree, or they can find solutions that will meet both of their needs.

You don’t feel you have to censor what you say.

A healthy relationship is one in which you can express your thoughts and feelings. If there are topics that you can’t talk about and things you’re not allowed to say, in the presence of your partner, you probably are not in a healthy relationship.

While it should be okay for you to say things, that doesn’t excuse blurting out rude or hurtful words. You can’t justify your lack of tact by saying you are just being honest. It’s tough to stay in a relationship when your partner is always running down your family, your friends, or the work you do.

Now that there is an “us,” you can still be you.

In the early stages of most relationships, people want to spend a tremendous amount of time together. As the relationship progresses, one person may start to wonder if now that there is an us, do I still get to be me? You should still be able to engage in hobbies and activities that you use to enjoy before you became a couple. You shouldn’t have to give up your likes and personality and always do with your partner wants. In healthy relationships, there’s a good balance of doing things together and people being able to have their separate activities.

Practicing healthy communication styles indicates a healthy relationship.

Sometimes it’s not so much the disagreement, but the way it’s expressed. When you disagree, can you do it without stonewalling, attacking, criticizing, and blaming? Disagreeing about a topic is something you can work through. Using your communication as a way of crushing your partner to bend them to your will, is a sure sign of an unhealthy relationship. If disagreements turn into personal attacks, pointing out the other’s faults, or looking for blame, you’re communicating in a very unhealthy manner. Relationships that include a lot of refusals to talk about things and the silent treatment are headed for trouble.

In healthy relationships, you’re able to make joint decisions.

Healthy relationships are characterized by people’s ability to make joint decisions that are in the interest of both parties. If your relationship involves one person just going ahead and doing what they want without consulting the other, that’s a very problematic sign. One person in the relationship shouldn’t always have to give in. Joint decisions don’t have to be win-lose. The goal here should be to find solutions to problems that work for both of you.

Healthy relationships include joy and happiness.

To maintain a healthy relationship, positive interactions need to exceed negative interactions significantly. When you think about your relationship, if all you remember the bad times, you’re in an unhealthy relationship. There need to be plenty of times when you feel joyful and happy. If you’re not satisfied and you never experience joy, either your relationship is bad or you came into the relationship already unhappy and made your partner responsible for your happiness. Work on being happy all by yourself and you’ll have a happier relationship.

You shouldn’t have “trust issues when the relationship is healthy.”

If your relationship is characterized by trust issues, you must ask yourself why. Is it because you don’t trust yourself? Have you done things you know violated your partner’s trust? Or has your partner done things repeatedly that violate your trust?

In healthy relationships, you can let things go.

The inability to let things go to be both a personal and a relationship issue. If every time there’s a disagreement, one or both of you bring up stuff from years gone by, your either in an unhealthy relationship or you’re creating it being unhealthy.

You are intimate in multiple ways.

Being intimate or close involves more than just sex. Intimate also includes sharing your feelings and sharing experiences. Do you go to for walks together? Do you talk with each other? Joint activities increase the emotional connection.

Your partner is the one you talked to about the difficult things.

When you have challenges in your life, who do you go to? In healthy relationships, it’s the partner people seek out to talk to. If you find yourself going to family or friends instead of your partner, it’s either a sign you’re in an unhealthy relationship or your lack of willingness to communicate with your partner is taking you in that direction.

You make happiness your responsibility.

Don’t make the mistake of believing that if you were with a particular person that you’ll be happy. Don’t expect to wait until you achieve one specific goal or buy a certain thing, and then you’ll be happy. If you’re not satisfied with the journey, you’re very unlikely to be pleased with the destination. Learn to make yourself as happy as possible each day and you’re making an excellent contribution to a healthy relationship.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

You can’t build a boundary fence on others property.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Iron gate

Boundary gate.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Sometimes drawing boundaries goes very wrong.

Having good boundaries is important for good mental health. Families that do not set boundaries develop long-term problems. Parents need to be parents and children need to be allowed to act like kids. People have the right to think what they think and feel the way they feel.

One important part of recovery is learning to set boundaries. Mature relationships, healthy ones, include the right to say no to things that make you uncomfortable.

Boundary setting, like so many other life skills, done well can increase your happiness. Done poorly, boundary-setting results in adding to your problems. In recovery or just plain growing up, there are lots of boundaries that need setting.

Setting boundaries.

In early recovery, from whatever you call your life issues, many people find that they have not done a good job of setting boundaries. People drop in whenever they chose. Family members may show up expecting to stay for a while, sometimes months. They may “borrow things” without asking. All sorts of inappropriate things happen.

To have an emotionally healthy life you need to work on setting boundaries. What is OK and what is not. Let your yeses be yes and your no’s be no.

In addiction and mental illness roles and boundaries get blurry.

If you have gone through a period of illness, drug use, alcoholism, or any mental or emotional illness, chances are roles got blurred. Parents have not been living up to their roles. Children may have had to care for their parents and siblings.

Dysfunctional families do not have clear roles or if they have roles those roles may not be appropriate. Children get used to telling parents what to do. Your family may be calling up to tell you what is wrong with your partner and your boss.

In recovery, boundaries have to change.

You have to start telling others that your choices are your choices. Then it becomes your challenge to make good choices. Recovery means you stop blaming others for your problems. It also means you have to take on personal responsibility for those choices.

Sometimes you need to tell people to stop telling you what your kids should do and wear. Some of you will have had to tell people who have been in your life a while that if they cannot respect your boundaries then they need to stop calling or coming around.

Your time is your time.

You may need to set boundaries on what time you will give to others. You should not need to live your life running to do for others no matter how much you care about them.

One place you can’t set a boundary.

You can build a fence to keep people off your property. Good fences make good neighbors, so the saying goes. But one place you can’t put up a fence is on your neighbor’s property. I see a lot of people in all forms of recovery get that one confused.

You can say “If you can’t give me a ride then I will need to stop giving you rides.” That is a boundary. What you can’t say is “I am setting a boundary. From now on your need to give me rides when I need them.”

Boundaries are about what you will do and accept. They are not a way of getting others to fit into your plans. When you start setting boundaries expect others to push back. They may well start setting boundaries also. If you want others to respect your newly set boundaries you will need to respect theirs also.

Boundaries around feelings are a huge problem.

Do not say “You have no right to feel that way.” Do not try to dictate how others feel or think. What you can say is “I am sorry you feel that way, or even, “how you feel is not my responsibility.”

Your feelings are yours. Their feelings are theirs. Work on seeing the difference here. It is possible for two or more people to feel differently about something. You do not have to be experiencing the same feeling as others. You need to maintain the right to feel the way you feel and grant others that same right.

Your lack of boundaries does not prevent others from having boundaries.

Dysfunctional families often have blurry or absent boundaries. People take each other for granted. Your things may not have been respected. Others may have felt that you owed them to do for them. As you begin to set your boundaries, avoid becoming the aggressor and trying to even the score by imposing on others. If you want your boundaries respected respect others.

Keep your boundaries consistent.

Once you set a boundary, don’t just walk into my house without knocking or don’t smoke dope around here, keep to it. People will test you. Things have a way of sliding back into the old patterns. Make sure you remind others that you have these new boundaries. If they can’t respect this you may need to find ways to get them out of your life or to minimize their impact on you and yours.

Good boundaries help you have good relationships. Learn what is acceptable to you and enforce those boundaries. In the process of setting boundaries, accept that others have the right to set some also. Boundaries mark the places where you end and another person starts. Practice maintaining good boundaries and you will have a better life.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

11 tips for more marriage miles.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Getting better marriage mileage.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Ways to get more mileage out of the marriage you have.

Marriage seems to be an endangered institution these days. Fewer people getting married and more divorces, people appear to be trading in their spouses faster than they are trading in their car. What we often find, with cars and with partners, is that there is a reason someone else is trying to trade theirs in.

Before you scrap your marriage and go shopping for a new relationship consider that whatever relationship you are in may be in need of a little refurbishing. Marriages need maintenance just like houses and cars. You may need to see a professional from time to time. That is what marriage counselors are for, but there are lots of things you can do on a daily basis to maintain that relationship before it falls apart.

Consider doing some of these activates frequently if you want your relationship to last.

1. Make couples maintenance a priority.

You’re in a relationship, you think you are past the hard part. Now that you have a partner you can focus on becoming a success in life. Not so fast.

Jobs will come and go. Life has its ups and downs regardless of the partner you are with. You may move around or change jobs. Your kids will grow up and launch out on their own. In all that living will you stay connected to your partner?

Put time spent maintaining that relationship in your schedule. Money may come and go but you only get so much life. Invest some of that time in maintaining your relationship. Otherwise, you will wake up one day and not know who this person you are living with has become.

2. Add more kind words to your relationship.

Families who are happy make kind words a staple in their emotional diet. There are plenty of times that people disagree and there will be arguments, but make an effort to say nice things to your partner.

If someone only hears about the things their partner does not like, but never hears that they are valued, they develop the belief that their partner does not see anything good in them or the relationship. For a long-lasting relationship say nice things to each other more often.

3. Touch is a two-way street.

Touch builds bonds. In early courtship couples hold hands, they snuggle, and want to be close. Touch needs to be in the relationship for more than just the mechanical part of sex. Sex is good, it builds the couple relationship, but sex alone will not be enough.

Make sure you are including some hand-holding, some gentle touching, and an occasional back rub or massage for a well-functioning relationship.

4. Talk more for more marriage mileage.

Humans use words for a lot more than conveying information. We think in words and we use them to express feelings. If you really want to understand your partner and to be understood, talk more. Talk not to convince them or to win the argument but to learn about each other.

Couples in the dating period do lots of talking, then they get together and there is progressively less time for talking. Life happens, the job, the kids. Over time people change. Make sure that you spend some time just talking if you want to know your partner. Otherwise one day you will wake up and discover that the two of you no longer know who this person is that you are living with.

5. Have new experiences together.

Far too many families discover when it is too late that the things of life do not make you happy. Yes, a new car or video game is enjoyable for a while but eventually, they wear out and get discarded. What you have after the things are gone are the memories.

Make memories together. You will need those good-time feelings in the emotional bank when the trials of life arrive.

6. Problem solve. Use disagreements to brainstorm new solutions.

The easy solution to life’s problems is to fight for what you think you want or need. Do not blame your partner for the problems and make it all their fault. You are in this partnership together. Avoid win-lose solutions and spend some time looking for options that allow both of you to get your needs met.

Do not fall into the trap of trying to control the situation and your partner. When times are tough winning the argument can cost you the relationship.

7. Have something to look forward to.

Life should not be all grind. Have hopes and dreams and work towards them. Make sure you do not get so wound up in the work of living that you do not see the rewards down the line.

8. Do unexpected nice things.

One large meal will not fill you up for a month. Do not expect that an occasional nice thing for your partner should make them feel loved and satisfied.

In your love menu include small unexpected treats and you will maximize positive relationships.

9. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Learn to laugh at your mistakes.

Trying to be perfect can leave you perfectly alone. The perfect person is very difficult to live with. Take the pressure off you and your relationship. Learn to admit when you are wrong about something and try to fix it.

Being able to laugh at yourself is a very helpful ability. We all do silly things at times. Recognize when you do those things and do not keep trying to explain why you did that or why it is not your fault.

10. Create new together activities and interests.

Couples, like individuals, need to grow. Grow together or grow apart. It is healthy for there to be interests that your partner does not particularly share. Talk about those interests some of the time. But also make it a priority to do new things together and develop new interests. This keeps the relationship alive and growing.

11. Put more kisses on your to-do list.

Happy long-term couples kiss more. These frequent kisses are not reserved for the start of sex but are liberally sprinkled throughout the life together. Make sure that there are quiet together times for these affection gestures. While your partner is struggling with a misbehaving child or an overflowing washer may not be the best time. But sometimes those are exactly the time to stop the flow of things and interject an “I love you” and a kiss.

Those are some of my suggestions for things you might want to do to keep your relationship in top condition. Have you found any other maintenance techniques that make your relationship run better?

For more on this topic take a look at these other posts on counselorssoapbox.com

Relationships

Love

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Will marriage counseling help?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

End of Marriage

Marriage mistakes.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

How do you get the most from marriage counseling?

Not all marriage counseling results in couples staying together. Occasionally the problem is the fit between the two parties, they should never have married. Most of the time the problem is in the individuals. Pick a new partner and you will get a new set of problems.

What do you need to do to get the most from this marriage counseling experience?

For marriage counseling to be helpful there are two things that need to happen. You need to pick the right counselor and you need to go into this experience with the right goals and attitudes. See my posts on “Why men fear marriage counseling” and “Picking the right counselor for you.

Be serious about investing your time in counseling.

How many hours a week do you spend fighting? Do you spend a lot of time complaining to others about your partner? Do the hours of the week include lots of time for misery?

People tell me that their poor relationship is destroying their life, interfering with their work, and keeping them from having a happy life.

Then they tell me they are not sure they can fit an hour appointment in their schedule. Working on a relationship takes time and effort.

Why wait till after the divorce to come for therapy because of your anger or depression?

Lots of individual counseling I do is actually “post-divorce therapy.” People get divorced thinking that will make them happy and find they are still unhappy.

Be serious about investing your money in counseling.

People spend hundreds on nights out, concert tickets, new clothes, or hair appointments and then say they can’t afford marriage counseling.

If you have children the court-ordered medication and counseling for the children will cost a lot more than what you might have invested in marriage counseling.

How much of your money is spent in the pursuit of happiness? Consider going to counseling an investment in yourself, in learning the skills you will need to get along with a partner or to be happy without them.

Don’t keep putting the problem off because some days things go better.

If you are having relationship problems the sooner you begin to work on these problems the more likely you are to find solutions that will work for both of you. Too often couples wait until the wreckage of repeated fights leaves them both convinced that even if the situation changes they still would want out of this relationship.

Every relationship has its ups and downs. When you are having that rough patch, one of you may be thinking the worst. During the times that you are able to talk with each other rationally is the best time to make progress.

Relationship counseling does not always need to be a long-drawn-out process. If you both approach it with the desire to work out your problems things may improve more quickly than you expect. Sometimes it is a matter of learning new skills or getting another perspective.

Don’t go to counseling to prove who is right or wrong.

A good marriage counselor will not solve the problems for you. They should never take sides. You will waste lots of time and money trying to be right and the result will be that both parties will leave the relationship angry and bitter.

Figuring out who is right is the job of a judge when you go to end the marriage. If you are stuck on making your partner the cause of the problems then you can’t focus on the solution.

The goal in counseling should be to find common ground, things you can agree on.

Repairing the damage is far more important than beating your partner into submission. Couples who stay together learn to see things from their partner’s viewpoint rather than becoming good at making that partner wrong.

Be honest with the therapist and yourself.

If you have decided you want a divorce but have been afraid to say so, being in the room with a neutral mediator may help.

If your choice is to stay married? What are you willing to change about yourself to make this work? There are ways to influence your partner (see getting others to change posts) but the fastest way to see things improve is often to change yourself. Changing you may require giving up that resentment you use over and over to beat your partner into submission.

Many couples come in unsure if they want to stay together. They know there are things about their partner that drew them together and things that are pushing them apart. One day they want to stay married and the next they think it is over. In couples like this, the “leaver” and the “stayer” may shift back and forth from day-to-day.

See also:

Finding a marriage counselor who can help

Why men fear marriage counseling

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Why men fear marriage counseling.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Couple

Why men fear marriage counseling.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Why men would rather ship out to a combat zone than go to marriage counseling.

There are a whole lot of reasons that men cringe in terror when they hear those dreaded words “we have a problem” or “we need to go for marriage counseling. They have good reasons to be terror-struck. I would want to avoid it also if I were in their shoes, except that I am a Licensed Marriage Therapist and have to do this sometimes. Here are some of the reasons men avoid marriage therapy.

Men do not talk about problems, they fix them.

Men, many of them, come from a culture that does not talk about feelings. When they feel sad or frustrated they do not talk – they do.  No young boy is taught that when he misses a shot in basketball he should sit and have a good cry and talk about it for a while. He is told to shake it off and get back in there and try again.

If he stopped to engage his feelings even his own mother, a man’s blueprint for how to be around women, might call him a sissy and tell him to knock it off and be a man. Then he gets married and his wife wants him to be more like a woman and have feelings and sit and talk about them.

For most men experiencing feelings, like crying in front of others is the equivalent of being asked to cut off a couple of inches. The man’s answer is if the board is too big, let’s just make the shelf longer, but I am not cutting off anything.

Marriage counseling traditionally was a tag-team sport and the man got the beating.

Most marriage therapists are women. In California, the typical marriage counselor is a 55-year-old woman, who works 20 hours a week in private practice and mostly focuses on children and women’s issues. When I graduated there were only three men and row upon row of women getting their marriage counseling degree.

There are some great women therapists, unfortunately, there are also some who became therapists to fix themselves and they have the view that the problem is always the man.

A lot of men have come into my office and told me that the last “Marriage therapist kept telling their wife that the man was the problem and she should just leave him. You can take just so much of this tag team beating before you need to draw the line.

A good marriage counselor should never take sides. But under the circumstances, it happens way too much. The man is already being asked to be more sensitive, use his intuition, and talk about his feelings.

They expect to hear that who and what they are is not acceptable.

When a man gets an email that the boss needs to see him for a talk, what he hears is that he is about to get chewed out.

Women do not “invite” men to marriage counseling for fun. By the time it is said it is because the problem has reached the crisis stage. This request is likely to sound more like an invitation to a flogging than a request for a problem-solving session.

Most couples, members of both, even multiple sexes, want to find a solution to a problem for which there is no solution. Gottman found after studying what couples fight about, that the majority of things over which couples are fighting about are things that can’t be changed.

She liked how “exciting” he was, only now she wishes he would be more “responsible.” He liked how “stylish” she was; now he is complaining about how much she spends on makeup and clothes.

When one party in the relationship says we have a “communication problem” what they really mean is you are not doing what I want you to do.

Men, most of them, do not have a strong tradition as good communicators. No NFL player stops the talk over the possession of the ball.

Men are more accustomed to the idea that the more they talk over a problem the more they will lose.

The idea that there can be win-win solutions, activities, and exercises that help both parties get their needs met rather than one winning and the other losing is not something men expect to find in marriage counseling.

Even their mother wouldn’t do this to them.

Mothers, the good ones that inhabit myths and legends, love their sons unconditionally. They watched him grow up and know his weaknesses. Mom gave up trying to get him to stop burping at the table and leaving his dirty underwear on the living room floor a long time ago.

The wife is sure she married a fix-it-up-project and has begun from day one to try to make changes in her new acquisition.

Men can’t understand why that woman who loved him unconditionally a few weeks ago is now on the way home from the honeymoon trying to change every nook and cranny of her new possession.

Does this mean it is over?

By the time the couple gets to the marriage therapist’s office many times one or the other party has already decided that they want out. What the man may be hearing is that she set this up so she could have a witness to how unreasonable he is and why she should leave him.

Now what?

How do you get the man or woman in your life to go for relationship counseling before the train wreck? Is there really a way to get that man to come and talk to make things better?

Yes, there are ways to find a professional who can help you work through those issues and help make your relationship happier. The key is to find the right marriage counselor for you and your partner.

In an upcoming post, we will explore how to find a marriage counselor that can help you both find ways to meet your needs by staying in the marriage instead of running for the exit.

See also: Will marriage counseling help?

Finding a marriage counselor who can help 

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Healthy relationships

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Couple

Relationship.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Searching for happiness.

Type into a search engine almost any term about happiness or relationships and you find a whole lot of links to dating sites right at the top. Those dot com places, you know the ones I mean, make it sound like the only relationship that matters is a romantic partner one, and if you don’t have one you are somehow incomplete and unhealthy.

Most of the articles on these sites are about how to attract a partner. How to do the right things say the right things and wear the right things to be desirable. The inference here is that if you just got someone to be your partner you would be happy. If selling sex wasn’t illegal in most places I think they would flat do that also. Some get awfully close to selling relationships. So with so many people hooking up for more or less time, why are so many people so unhappy? Is a romantic partner relationship really the only one that matters?

Why do so many people in unhappy marriages divorce and remarry, only to be unhappy again? Because they never learned that happiness was inside and unhappiness was everywhere. That does not mean that sometimes relationships need to end or that having had one bad relationship you should never try again. It does mean that you need to learn to be healthy and happy or you won’t be able to be in a healthy happy relationship. Two mentally unhealthy people do not make for a healthy relationship.

People with some pretty extreme disabilities can and do have great healthy relationships. Schizophrenics who have a supportive person living with them are about half as likely to end up back in the hospital. Just be sure you are together because you both can contribute to the relationship.

So where do you start to have a great relationship? I suggest first try getting to be your own best friend, which is not an excuse for self-centeredness. I often ask clients if they would want themselves as a friend. Clients with deep depression or lots of anxiety usually say no. In fact, I continue to be surprised by how many people would not want themselves for a best friend.

If you sell someone something you would not buy yourself we think you are a lot dishonest. So how could you possibly get someone to be your friend if you wouldn’t want to be a friend to that kind of person? Now please do not give up here and say it is hopeless. Lots of mothers bring in their children and want me to change them. People in unhappy relationships come in and want us to change their partner. How about doing the remodeling program on yourself first?

Can you believe there are people who have been married to not one but two or three alcoholics? After a lot of pain and suffering, they get out of their relationship. They decide to get back out there, they go out for a night on the town with some friends and they meet a new romantic interest. Then what happens? That person, the one they met in the bar, guess what? They turn out to be an alcoholic also.

Women who have been abused and men also, often find they get into a new relationship and that person is abusive. Why?

Because unless we take the time to look at ourselves we keep being attracted to the same dysfunctional types. If you keep hooking up with drug addicts, you either need to change whom you are attracted to or get yourself a drug addict with fifteen or twenty years clean and sober.

Think back to a time in your life you met a new friend. You wanted to know all about them. Didn’t you? Why is it that my clients can tell me all about their significant other and their kids and often their parents but they have no answers to questions about themselves?

Ever heard the saying that beauty is skin deep, but ugly goes all the way to the bone? Despite the fact that what is inside counts, far more than you may think, most people think that the way to be more attractive is to lose weight or change their look. Attractive people go through messy painful divorces also. Most women are surprised to find out that a happy smiling woman is a lot more attractive than an angry hostile one, regardless of their figure and their “look.”

Before I leave this topic, for now, I need to remind you that good relationships include the way in which you relate to your children, your parents, your boss, and sometimes even your ex.

The take away from this? Before you are likely to be happy in a romantic relationship you need to learn to be happy with yourself and then learn to be happy in those relationships with family and friends you already have. Only after you have learned to master these challenges are you likely to be successful at having a happy romantic relationship.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel