05/28/2015 No Comments
((Note: This is a guest article by Dr. Marc Shulman, a Long Island Psychologist with offices in Garden City and Lawrence, New York. Many of his local New York clients are couples in need of help. I have invited Dr. Shulman to our blog to talk more about relationship counselling and therapy. If you’re interested in learning more about his Long Island practice, visit his website at www.lipsychologist.com, and if you are interested in relationship counselling in Calgary, give Innovative Counselling Solutions a call today.))Relationship counselling is one of the most effective ways to improve your relationship. It’s not just for those on the brink of break up or divorce either. Relationship counselling provides a unique way to examine your relationship and learn new and effective ways to communicate and build trust.Yet as effective as relationship counselling is for couples, the truth is that every couple is made up of two individuals, and that means that each individual within that couple deserves their own private opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings.
Meeting One on One During Couples Counselling
It’s for those reasons that, in my practice, I try to make sure that I have an opportunity to meet with both couples individually at least once, if not more times. There are several advantages to this approach that can have a valuable effect on your relationship, including:

  • Chance to Share in Private

Maintaining open communication can be difficult at first, especially if you’ve lost some trust in sharing openly in front of your partner. But individually, people are much more willing to share what bothers them and discuss the issues that matter most. This provides the psychologist (in this case, myself) with the opportunity to really learn more about the person as an individual, and come up with strategies to communicate it to your partner.

  • Individual Mental Health Struggles

Similarly, individual problems that have nothing to do with the relationship can affect the relationship, and sometimes these deserve their own individual advice or counselling. For example, if you are struggling with anxiety or under work stress, it may have nothing to do with your partner, but affects your happiness in a way that hurts your relationship. So meeting individually can help uncover these issues.

  • Psychologist Help

You and your partner need to communicate. But sometimes you’re not quite at the place where you feel comfortable talking yet, or you just don’t know how. Meeting individually means that we can give you some guidance over how to communicate with your partner, and in some cases we can even help lead conversation ourselves taking much of the pressure off of you.

Moving Forward with Relationship Counselling

These are only a few examples of the benefits of meeting individually during couples counselling, and when I work with clients on Long Island I can tell that this makes a tremendous difference in terms of quality and effectiveness of the counselling services. Relationship counselling can be challenging, but meeting individually can help improve the likelihood of success and make your relationship stronger.

01/26/2015 No Comments
Communication is the single most important tool for a successful marriage. Couples that are unable to talk effectively find that they are often “in their own head” imagining arguments with their partner and worried that they are constantly walking on eggshells. Couples that are able to talk openly may still fight, but after those fights are over they are able to embrace each other again.Effective marital communication is a skill that you learn, and couples that have had problems with communication in the past will find that they have developed bad habits that need to be fixed before the two of you can truly talk. The following are five different tips for effective marital communication, to help you start the conversations again.

Marriage Communication Tips

1)     Talk – Of course it all starts with the single most important factor in communication – talking. You cannot be afraid of a fight or afraid of the conversation because not talking is just as damaging. While it makes some sense to wait until emotions are high, as soon as you can you need to talk about what’s on your mind. There is no way around it.

2)     Avoiding “Always” or “Never” – No one “always” or “never” does something, but couples that have been arguing a lot use those words often. As soon as you use any definitive words like that, you turn the conversation into a defensive one without a good conclusion. Make sure you avoid those terms as much as possible.

3)     What YOU Can Do – The only person that you can truly change is yourself. While fights are usually about what the other person can do, you also need to always ask yourself what you can do in the process. For example, perhaps you want your partner to be more romantic. You can tell your partner that you would like more romance, but you also need to be aware that you can’t sit back and do nothing waiting for it. You need to be more loving and romantic yourself as well.

4)     Hug and Kiss At Night – No matter how bad a fight is, couples will always communicate more effectively if after the fights are over they are still willing to show affection. It’s that extra feeling of safety that couples need to have in order to talk openly – avoiding the fear that any bad conversation can lead to a breakup or silence. Don’t sleep apart or avoid your partner’s touch. The more you are willing to connect put aside the arguments and still be affectionate, the more open you’ll be able to be in the future.

5)     Apologize for What You Did Wrong – There is almost no such thing as a fight that is 100% someone’s fault. If you find that there is something you did do wrong, apologize and mean it. Often an apology is all that your partner is looking for. Avoid saying “I’m sorry, but…” because that implies that you didn’t mean the apology. But if you genuinely apologize you’ll get better results out of your arguments.

BONUS TIP: Write out all of your thoughts. It’s not a bad idea to write out all of the things you want to say to your partner before you do it. That doesn’t mean send it to them in an email or let them see an angry rant (always delete/throw away/shred any writing after you’ve done it) but sometimes the most important thing you can do is map out what you want to say. It helps let the emotions die down and ensures that you’re not still angry when it’s over because you forgot to say something that was important to you.

No matter what, communicating is crucial. It’s something you both need to do if you want your relationship to work, because the alternative to communication is letting the anger fester and creating imaginary fights in your mind. Couples that communicate last longer, even if those communications become fights, because they are taking their thoughts out of their head and trying to productively create a better relationship. You can learn more about improving communication in your relationship here.

03/17/2014 No Comments
Weddings are meant to be celebrations of the love between two people. But sometimes they can represent a deadline for your worries and concerns. The closer you get to the date of the wedding, the more exacerbated your concerns become.

Many couples are able to overcome this stress, have their wedding, and live happily ever after. But for some, the worries combined with the stress of planning the wedding itself becomes overwhelming. If it gets too out of hand it can cause people to cancel their weddings altogether.

Emotions of Cancelling WeddingsCancelling a wedding is an emotional event, and while it’s never done without any cause, it’s also not necessarily a reflection of the love you two share. It’s not uncommon to still love your partner and want to be with your partner – you simply didn’t feel like you were ready and didn’t know what to do.

Unfortunately, it’s also not uncommon to find that the act of calling off a wedding can also take its emotional toll on your relationship. That’s why you’ll need help picking up the pieces. Consider the following:

  • Keep Your Business Private – It’s no one’s business but your own why the wedding was cancelled, and the more you tell other people the more it puts added pressure on your relationship. Simply reiterate your love and keep details private.
  • Share Everything – Anything that you don’t share with your partner is going to put stress on both of you. Make sure your partner knows everything you’re thinking, what your worries were, and more. By being open you reduce doubts and fears, as well as future stress. Talk to a couple’s counselor if you need one.
  • Be Caring/Loving – When you call off a wedding, your own needs aren’t the only ones that require attention. Your partner is going to have lost a lot of trust, and they’re going to be concerned about the future in a way they were not before. Be understanding, caring, and loving about their feelings and needs, too, instead of focusing completely on your own, because otherwise the cancellation could push them away.
  • Don’t Rush It Again – Calling off a wedding can have a rippling effect on future ceremonies. It’s best to consider treating your relationship like it was not ready and going out on dates and getting to know each other again. That will help you rebuild any trust and love that may have been broken by the cancellation.

Communication and care is key. You may have called off the wedding for your own reasons, but you’ll need to not only address those reasons – you’ll also need to show a lot of love to your partner. Your partner will also need to care for your needs, and the two of you need to work together to rebuild the relationship.

If you’re someone that cancelled a wedding, were you able to overcome it? What was the reaction afterwards? Share your stories in the comments.

If you’re in this situation and you feel like you need help to sort things out and repair your relationship, read more about working with a couple’s counsellor here.

03/17/2014 No Comments
When it comes to relationships, the only person you can ever truly change is yourself.

As much as you may want your partner to be a certain way, the best way to fix a struggling relationship is to identify anything that you can work on and try to fix it. You are the person you’re going to have the most effect on.

As couples become more stressed, different partners can also become more emotionally abusive. It’s important that you identify whether or not you’re showing signs of being emotionally abusive so that you can start fixing yourself and help your partner heal in the process.

Signs You May Be Acting In an Emotionally Abusive Way

  • You React In Certain Ways for Show

Manipulation is a clear sign of being emotionally abusive, and one of the easiest ways to be manipulative is to make sure that you’re being “seen” for how you are responding to things. For example, perhaps you’re not really sad or tired but you want your partner to think they made you sad or tired, so you stay in bed in a sad position until your partner notices.

  • You Only Play Your Role If Your Partner Plays There’s

Another sign that you may be using emotional abuse tactics is if you only play your part as a loving partner if your partner is doing what you want. For example, withholding sex until your partner cleans the bedroom would be a form of emotional abuse, as would not kissing your partner or making them feel loved simply because you want them to do more for you first.

  • More Lows Than Highs

If you find yourself criticizing more often than you compliment, and justifying your criticisms, you may also be emotionally abusive. Those that fall into that trap want their partner to feel down, so they provide criticisms without helping their partner regain the self-confidence lost as a result of the criticism.

Acknowledging Flaws Helps You Move Past ThemThe more you can work on yourself, the more you can change your relationship. While both partners need to work together towards the same goal, it’s self-reflection that will have the greatest effect on your future together.

For those in Calgary that would like to learn more about this type of couples counseling, please contact Innovative Counselling Solutions today. We’ve worked with many couples that have been struggling with their own behaviors and those of their partner, and we’re confident we can find a way to recover. Read more about the
couple’s counselling process here.

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