Scheduling Quality Time with Your Partner

Yes, ladies… I said scheduled! I know some may cringe at the thought of actually scheduling time to spend with your hunny; whatever  happened to the “good old days” of staying up until 3AM sharing our deepest thoughts?

Truth bomb: women are busier than ever! We not only care for our children, but also for our aging parents, our homes, our friends and our careers. It’s pretty much a modern day miracle if we can manage to get our roots done in the midst of it all!

Your initial response to this suggestion may be that it feels “forced” or “unromantic”. It makes sense to want that spontaneity that was present in the beginning of your relationship, but equally as important is recognizing and accepting that with time, our romantic bonds evolve and it is crucial for us to evolve along with the changes in our lives.

Here are the facts:

  • Research shows Martial stability is improved by shared leisure time together- the opposite is also true-the less quality time spent together is correlated with lowered marital stability.
  • spending time together builds greater intimacy and connection: the greater sense of connection we have to our partner, the easier it is to forgive and work through conflict. Have you noticed the more disconnected you feel from your partner, the more likely it is that you hold on to grudges?
  • Committing to time spent together prioritizes the relationship above all else. It acknowledges your commitment to strengthen your bond with your partner so that you are resilient in life as a team! It’s you two against the world!(or at least the kids!)

How to start:

  1. BOOK IT! Commit to a weekly “relationship appointment”- put it in your calendar and prioritize it. You give your doc the 24 hour courtesy rule, be respectful of this commitment you made and don’t double book yourself!
  2. Make a list of activities before hand- Fill up a jar with “date night in” and “date night out ideas”- pick from the jar so you have something to look forward to all week!
  3. Let go of expectations and be in the moment – we spend so much of our lives scheduling and planning- when you’re together- practice being present  (the spontaneity will find its way- I promise!)

Val Spiropoulos, LCPC

4 Ways Divorce Can Impact Your Kids as Adults

It’s a known truth these days that close to 50% of marriages end in divorce; a common phenomenon that impacts many kids and young adults. As a therapist who specializes in work with young adults and women’s issues, I’ve witnessed firsthand, the impacts divorce can have in adulthood. Sure, it’s common to see kids and teens in my practice to help them cope with the instability and stress divorce brings in the moment, but I’ve come to find that the impact of divorce is much more longstanding and manifests in many ways long after; as kids have become adults and started families of their own.

Here are 4 common ways that kids of divorce can struggle in adulthood:

  1. Control

Kids who witness the unpredictability and emotional chaos of divorce seek stability and control. As adults, the need for control can manifest in unhealthy ways such as the need to control others. Extreme discomfort or anxiety occurs when the inevitable happens- we cannot control others and everything around us.

Likely, the need for control can arise from the fear of failure, something which can be created from witnessing failure of a marriage. In efforts to alleviate this fear, adults overcompensate by having rigid expectations for themselves and others around them. This often leads to disappointment, low self-worth and unrealistic expectations for relationships.

  1. Interpersonal Relationships

 As adults, kids who experienced divorce may have trouble with emotional intimacy and have difficulty expressing emotions. Vulnerability can be a scary concept to someone who has witnessed betrayal and the breakdown of trust that divorce can sometimes cause.

  1. Self-Esteem

Kids who get dragged in the middle of their parent’s divorce are more likely to internalize the blame or insults parents trade during divorce. This can have a detrimental impact on self-esteem as an adult.

As well, self-blame can create feelings of guilt and a low sense of self-worth in adults who developed the misconception that divorce was their fault, as kids.

  1. Skewed Expectations of Marriage

Adult children of divorce can develop skewed world views about relationships and marriage. Having  an expectation of “perfection” in intimate relationships (one without conflict) can lead to short-lived and unstable relationships.  These adults will often be disappointed and let down when these unrealistic expectations are unmet by their partner.

It’s important to remember that the ways each individual experiences a loss such as divorce is different, and that generally, kids are extremely resilient. With this said, if you or someone you know are struggling with any of these issues, it might be beneficial to explore them further with a therapist. Therapy can help you gain insight as to how your past has shaped you in the present and to empower you to shift your life in a healthier direction.

“Say This…Not That,” How To Support a Loved One Going Through Emotional Distress

 

It is beyond difficult to go through mental and emotional distress. It can feel impossible to formulate what you are going through, let alone express to a loved one how they can help. So many people experience feelings of depression, anxiety, anger, grief, and loss due to struggling with a mental illness or enduring a period of pain. However, everyone goes through different experiences and struggles so it can feel helpless to explain your pain and it can feel helpless to be a loved one trying to help heal that pain. I understand how loved ones then can feel at a loss as to how to give their support. It is normal to not know what to say, how to say it, what to do, or know if you are being helpful in any way.

Being a family therapist at The Centered Life, I believe it is an essential piece to therapy to aid my clients to learn how to conceptualize and express what they are experiencing in order to work through it. But I think it is equally as important in therapy to bring in clients’ support systems so they can learn how to be helpful in a healthy way. It is hard to be vulnerable and ask for help. And if that help is received in a negative way, it will only set up a dynamic of little communication about emotional needs and can negatively affect the relationship as well. Which then creates more distress on both ends. Here is a list of  some ways that may help people express what kind of help they need and help support systems navigate how to be helpful.

Say This: “I may not understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help”

Not That: “We all go through times like this”

Say This: “You may not believe it now, but the way you are feeling will change”

Not That: “Just snap out of it, look on the bright side”

Say This: “You are not alone in this. I’m here for you. We will get through this together”

Not That: “You’ll be fine. Stop worrying. Shouldn’t you be better right now?”

Say This: “Talk to me, I’m listening.”

Not That: “Here is my advice.”

Say This: “I know you are feeling anxious and overwhelmed right now, what can I do to help?”

Not That: “You are freaking out, you just need to calm down.”

Say This: “You are not alone in this”

Not That: “There is always someone worse off than you.”

Say This: “You are important to me and I want to help.”

Not That: “No one said life is fair.”

Say This: “Do you need a hug?”

Not That: “Stop feeling sorry for yourself.”

Say This: “I can not completely understand what you are struggling with, but I can offer my love and compassion.”

Not That: “Believe me, I know how you feel. I was depressed/anxious for a few days”

Say This: “I’m not going to leave you or abandon you.”

Not This: “Your moods are bringing everyone around you down.”

Say This: “When these feelings subside, I will still be here and so will you.”

Not That: “Stop being so sensitive, cheer up.”

It can feel helpless for both the person enduring the emotional distress and the people who are trying to help, but it does NOT have to be. The above statements are some helpful outlines to enhance healthy and empowering support. If we can open up a dialogue about these topics and help each other understand from both sides, then there is so much more of a chance of coping better. It is important to offer support with an open mind, open heart, and with an open-ended approach because it only leaves room for open healthy communication and learning amongst support systems. All of us at The Centered Life are here to help people that are going through a hard time. Please call us if you are needing any kind of guidance and extra support!

All my best,

    Samantha