Category Archives: Relationship Rehab

The Languages of Love

5 Love Languages | Think Like a Counselor

Today is Lundi Gras, which I assume has some sort of historical meaning, but to me is basically just the day before Mardi Gras. The city has been partying its collective booty off for the past few weeks, and this sunny, chilly morning feels like a small pause before the parades resume tonight, leading up to the grand culmination of Fat Tuesday. I always enjoy Mardi Gras, but I’m also always happy to get back to regular life. When there’s basically a giant street party for the whole city happening every night, it’s hard to stay focused and productive on anything else.

However, normal life will resume shortly here in New Orleans, and that will include Valentine’s Day next week. In honor of this holiday dedicated to love and relationships, I wanted to spend a few minutes talking about Love Languages. This incredibly helpful concept is something that I frequently use in couple’s counseling, and most people are somewhat familiar with the idea even if they haven’t read the book.  Continue reading

Life’s a Dance

Life's a Dance | Think Like a CounselorYes, today’s title is inspired by a country song, a genre which will always hold a special place in my little Texas heart. The song may be a little cheesy, but it has a pretty solid message and applies to the topic today.

My husband and I are trying to learn how to dance and recently began attending a group dance class. To be honest, neither of us possesses much natural dancing talent; I personally hail from a proud heritage of white-man-overbiting head-bobbers, and my husband (for all of his amazing qualities and dashing good looks) was not blessed with a sense of rhythm. On top of these issues, I have a stubborn tendency to try to lead him rather than following his lead. As we lined up with the other couples on the dance floor, our issues began surfacing: both of us fighting for the lead, neither following the beat of the song, and both getting frustrated with our inability to work smoothly together.

Then, the instructor decided to torture me by directing everyone to switch partners. Now my faults and insecurities are on full display for a complete stranger, and I’m forced to make awkward small talk while trying to listen to the teacher and avoid stepping on this poor guy. Then, we switch partners again! Continue reading

Small Steps

Improving your relationship | Think Like a Counselor
One of the cool things about relationships is that it really doesn’t take anything huge to take them from good to great. When couples come into counseling, they often feel that a major overhaul is needed in order to revitalize their relationship, which can be overwhelming and discouraging because it seems like so much work. Sometimes the urge to make a big change can motivate couples to make decisions without fully thinking through the consequences, such as, “We’ve been in a rut, so maybe having a baby now will bring us closer together” or “We’re not happy together, maybe a big romantic trip will fix things!” Instead of relying on a grand romantic gesture once a year, making small, thoughtful changes throughout your normal daily routines can be a more effective way to shake things up and restore intimacy. When a disconnected couple is sitting with me in session and can’t seem to find common ground, I often start with these types of small steps to get the affection flowing again before we start working through major conflicts or tackling big issues.

I recently came across an article entitled 24 Real-Life Habits of Actual Couples that was full of great ideas if you’re stuck for ideas of something to do for your partner. Some of my favorites:

  • Don’t say “sorry” after you do something crappy; say “thank you” for their patience with you instead
  • Make a list of what they like, and surprise them with small gifts from time to time to show that you’re thinking of the person
  • Leave notes for each other
  • Turn off your phone when you’re eating together

Take this week to steal some of these suggestions or use them to brainstorm something unique to do to show your love. It won’t take much time, and it will mean so much to them!

Jessie

Wag Your Tail

How to Greet Family | Think Like a Counselor

Every day when I walk through the door, my dog is there: wriggling, wagging, smiling, leaning against my leg, looking up at me like she has been thinking about me all day and can’t believe she is so lucky to see my face again. Some of her excitement is undoubtedly because my arrival means dinnertime for her, but it is still wonderful to have someone so happy to see me at the end of the day. Imagine if we were able to show the same unflagging, overflowing enthusiasm for our partners every day when they come home!

I remember talking to my mom on the phone in college when she suddenly announced that she had to go because my stepdad just pulled up and “I have to go greet him!” She sounded so happy to see him, and I thought how nice it would be to have someone be that excited to see me every day. Growing up, we often failed to acknowledge when people arrived home, or a greeting was simply yelled from the kitchen or grunted from the couch without taking our eyes off the television. Sure, we see these people every day, they know we love them, do we have to make a big deal out of every arrival? Maybe not, but it takes such a small amount of effort and makes such a big impression on the person being greeted, maybe it is worth it.

I know that we get caught up in life and get busy, especially once kids and chores and Netflix takes ahold of our time and attention (I know all about getting lost down the Netflix rabbithole…) but maybe this week we can all do a little better at pressing pause when our spouse, child, or roommate comes home and making a difference in their day. I may not have a big fluffy tail to wag to show my happiness when my husband walks in the door, but I bet a hug and a smile will do the trick.

dog, Mississippi beach

There’s that smile!