5 Steps for Working Through Couples Conflict

“Inside the heart of each and every one of us there is a longing to be understood by someone who really cares. When a person is understood, he or she can put up with almost anything in the world.” – Ed Hird, Author, Speaker, Minister Couples typically come in to my office complaining, “We can’t communicate!” Each describes what their partner is doing wrong, complains about that person’s character flaw, and implores how s/he needs to change. The anger eventually subsides with both refusing to budge; and feeling frustrated, disconnected, helpless and painfully alone. What is couple conflict really about? The issue is not about who’s right or wrong, compromising or even fighting fair. At the core of most couple conflict an individual desperately needs to know “Are you really there for me? Will you respond to me when I call? Are you emotionally engaged with me?” Dr. Sue Johnson, founder of Emotionally Focused therapy calls these ARE Conversations. Behind distress, couples need to know “Will you be Accessible, Responsive and Emotionally Engaged?” The following steps can help you return to intimacy by working through conflict. Make time alone to figure out what the conflict is really about. Look within. Ask yourself, “What am I feeling because of what my partner did or did not do? Do I feel hurt? Shame? Disrespected? Discarded?” Have an honest look at your stance. Consider the three words that have saved many relationships. Not “I love you,” but “Maybe I’m wrong”. Are you focusing entirely on what your partner is doing wrong (in your eyes) and have your blinders on when it comes...

5 Keys for a Thriving Relationship

We’ve all been taken by surprise with news of the seemingly “ideal couple” getting a divorce. This unexpected event shakes us up for a while causing one to reflect on their own relationship and to experience a “what if” moment. It often leaves one feeling unsure how to keep their relationship on track. All couples go through rough patches in their relationship. What’s sad is that when it happens to us we feel like failures, shut people out and hold fast to the appearance of having our emotional house in order. How different it would be if our society were to normalize, neutralize and put judgments aside so that we can truly be supportive with one another. Finding a loving relationship is the main goal in life for most Americans, placing it ahead of career or financial success. Yet half of all marriages end in divorce. Couple’s attempts of working through those perpetual issues are like the definition of insanity … doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Yet it’s the reaction from our partner (defensive or non-responsive) that keeps this destructive cycle alive. What is the cause of conflict in relationships? “Most fights are really protests over emotional disconnection” says Dr. Sue Johnson, founder of Emotionally Focused Therapy. “We are never more emotional than when our primary love relationship is threatened. When our loved one is unavailable or unresponsive, we are assailed by emotions of anger, sadness, hurt and above all fear. Fear negatively impacts the secure attachment bond with loved ones. The anger, criticism and demands are really cries to draw their...

Raising Emotionally Intelligent Children

Two years ago in May we got the life-altering phone call from a relative that his daughter, who just months earlier graduated from college, had died from an accidental overdose. Trying to make sense of this tragic loss, we wondered how someone who had so much going for her could have gotten herself in this predicament. Not unlike other young adults, she used alcohol and drugs socially to help her relax, de-stress and sometimes to escape the hurts and rejection of significant relationships. I wonder if things may have turned out differently if she had greater Emotional Intelligence skills? What is Emotional Intelligence? It is the ability to be aware of and to effectively manage one’s own feelings while responding effectively to others. It is the cornerstone to quality decision making and having healthy relationships. The characteristics of an emotionally intelligent individual are self awareness, self control, self motivation, empathy, and social compatibility. Why is it important to be emotionally intelligent? The ability to perceive, to understand and to express one’s feelings is essential to effective and healthy management of emotions. Once recognized, skills can be taught to master feelings of self worth, as well as more responsible responses to the feelings of others. These skills can help children to resist peer pressures, avoid bullying mentalities, and to provide more effective methods on how to manage their time and work cooperatively with others. How to become an emotionally intelligent parent: Identify and label your own feelings. Feelings are neither good nor bad. They just are. We all have them. Promote discussion of feelings, especially those which seem inappropriate such...

San Diego Couples Workshop: Hold Me Tight Retreat

I will be teaching at the Hold Me Tight Couples Retreat Friday and Saturday, June 15 & 16, from 9am-6pm. Are you missing the love, connection and respect that you once had with your partner? Have frustrating and destructive cycles destroyed the passion you once felt for each other? Do you find yourself comforting yourself by saying things like, “passion always fades after the beginning of a relationship, I just need to accept that and figure out how to communicate better.”? There are so many myths about love and relationships in our world and our culture today. Anyone can write a self-help book or lead a relationship workshop. So, how do you know what to believe? And how do you actually put in to practice what you learn? The truth is, you can have a loving, passionate connection with your partner. You are not destined to a ho-hum existence…you can have love, passion and harmony in your relationship. And you can trust that this workshop will show you how to create it. HOLD ME TIGHT is a workshop based on the book of the same name. The book (and workshop) was written by the founder of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFT), the method with the highest proven outcomes for couples therapy. • EFT has an astounding 70 – 75% success rate and results have been shown to last, even in the face of significant stress. • EFT is recognized by the American Psychological Association as empirically proven. The message of EFT is simple: Forget about learning how to argue better, analyzing your early childhood, making grand romantic gestures, or...

Speaking Engagement: Mom’s Mastermind Group

I’ll be speaking at the Mom’s Mastermind Group on February 7, 2012 The topic is: Emotions! … and How to Make Sense of Them Do you find it difficult to ask for help? When you feel criticized what do you do? Are there times you lose your temper and wonder what just happened? We all experience emotions. Very few people, however, know how to effectively deal with the negative emotions that arise. We’re told to “suck it up”, “don’t go emotional on me”, “take a time out”, etc. etc. So what are you supposed to do with the emotional turmoil you experience? And how should you handle unfinished business? I will address this in my experiential talk on Tuesday February 7, 2012 at the Mom’s Mastermind group in San Diego, California. I am a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist who specializes in working with couples using Emotionally Focused...