Relationship Counseling Category

The River

The flow of our life is a lot like that of a river. It ebbs and flows. It can be icy and rigid or smooth and flowing. Sometimes it is wild and windy, other times it is clear and calm. When the latter happens, that river must have had a sense of equilibrium. By definition, equilibrium means "the condition of a system in which all competing influences are balanced, in a wide variety of contexts." The key word here is balanced! Similar to a river, A person's life must be balanced to achieve equilibrium or what the Chinese call Yin and Yang. It is no coincidence that we are so much like water as our bodies are made up of 70% water (and the earth's surface is the same). Water and electricity are also very similar. Both are made up of currents (energy) and both seek the easiest route -this is why rivers flood and why people get shocks (I was going to say electrocuted but I want to keep this blog positive). Just like water what we are always seeking is that perfect equilibrium or balance in o...

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Getting to Know You?!

Getting to Know You?!

By David I. Brandt, LCSW

Posted 3/29/14

"A man must eat a peck of salt with his friend, before he knows him.” Miguel De Cervantes

And that is A LOT of salt! It takes time to really know if someone will become a friend or not (or a lover or not). Too often we impulsively jump into a relationship, whether out of desperation, fear of being alone, insecurity, and/or over-exuberance - only to find that we actually had very little on which to base the relationship. We were really living out some projection, vision or fantasy in our heads. It takes time to allow ourselves to be more vulnerable, which is what we need to do in order to grow and evolve greater intimacy. One cannot rush this process!!!

Additionally, getting to really know someone takes work at times and is definitely NOT all fun and games. Part of eating a lot of “salt” together is, indeed, taking the time needed to learn about our interactional dynamics and styles and then learnin...

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On Forgiveness

People find forgiveness difficult. I suspect the reason for that is that most people think forgiveness is about the other person, about letting them off the hook, or letting them get away with whatever they've done, and that somehow, forgiving them means you are weak.

As far as I can tell, it's just the opposite: forgiveness makes you strong. Forgiveness is NOT for the other person, it's for YOU.

Someone once told me that refusing to forgive someone is just like taking poison and expecting the other person to die. I love the image that brings to mind. You are trying to hurt them, because they deserve it! But the only one you are harming is yourself. You are the one sitting there feeling hateful and spiteful and angry. The other person is not worried about you or your bitterness. They are off living their life, not paying you any mind. You are the one carrying around the pain wishing you weren't.

Forgiving someone does not mean that what they did is ok with you. It does mean that you...

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On Being Right

People love being right. Anytime we get the chance to be right we seem to take it. Being right, and its corollary, making someone else wrong, is like an addiction. It's as bad as smoking, over-eating, gambling, or any fill-in-the-blank vice; you know it's not good for you, but you like doing it so much that in the moment, you don't care and you can't seem to help yourself.

I say it's 'like' an addiction, because it's not actually an addiction. While we are compelled to be right by survival instinct, we do have a choice. It seems as though we can't help it, but we can. We just don't want to. Why not? Because from where we are looking, the payoff seems great! But there are costs involved. Do you even know what the payoffs and the costs are?

Most of us have never actually thought that through. Could you even put the payoffs and costs into words?

Let's take a look and see what we see...


You get to be right! What a great rush that is. You feel smart, you feel accomplished, mayb...

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Groundbreaking New Research On The Science Of Attachment In Relationships!

In November 2013, Sue Johnson shared the results of a groundbreaking collaboration between herself and University of Virginia Neuroscientist Dr. James Coan. They showed for the first time that Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) changes how the brain perceives and responds to threat.The research findings have important implications for all of us. We all know that EFT can deepen love and create a more secure emotional bond, but we haven’t always understood how this happens. It seems that science is giving us a deeper understanding of how love (and adult attachment security) works at the level of brain function.

Here is a link to this amazing research:

For those of you that may not have the time to read it, Sue has summarized the findings like this:

The study dramatically illustrates how couples therapy that teaches people to bond securely, builds the pathway for loving contact that soothes the brain and calms ...

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Snickerdoodles, Pain and Discomfort

What might snickerdoodles have to do with relationships?
I was recently reading the Huffington Post with their pros giving tips on best strategies for health in 2013. In her short article Eve Hogan lists some smart and simple strategies for relationship health:
1) Remember What Your Goal Is: A Healthy, Loving Relationship
2) Step Two: Simply Notice Your Own Response To The Event
3) Step Three: Ask Yourself If Your Actions, Thoughts And Words Are Leading You Closer To Your Goal — Or Further Away
Of course these steps make perfect sense and are quite useful in bringing awareness to our actions with our partners and significant others. What is so interesting to me is that ALL of us WANT to be in a health relationship that is loving, compassionate, respectful and kind. How in the world do we get from such a strong and solid WANT to such a sticky mess that can bring us to our knees (or to divorce, estrangement, and incredible pain).
In most aspects of the rest of our lives, we simply manife...

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I love my husband, but why don't I want to have sex?

Q&A: I am 35 years old, married, and have 4 wonderful children. I love my husband very much and we have a very beautiful relationship. I love my life and work outside the home. The problem is that by the end of the day, I'm completely exhausted from work, kids, cleaning, cooking, making lunches, and all the rest of it that I don't have any desire to have sex with my husband. I'm just too tired. Once we are intimate, I enjoy myself. I'm happy and I have a great relationship with my husband, so why the problem with the desire? What should I do?

Response: Thanks so much for this question. Wow you have a lot on your plate! And you, indeed must be very busy with several children to take care of. There is no doubt that you rightfully should feel tired by the day's end. As for being a working mother with children and feeling too tired to have desire, I hear this A LOT!

I believe that everything in life is about choices and priorities. It might be that you're prioritizing other things ov...

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MARRIAGE - What it IS and what is ISN'T

MARRIAGE – What it IS and what is ISN’T

Marriage is not a net to catch a moving target.

Marriage is the answer to THIS question: When I give you everything I have and you give me everything I need, I give you all of me.

ANY of these --- are warning signs, not green lights. The negatives often become amplified. 1) if's... 2) "okay, I changed my mind, again." 3) Uncertainty (Once you're mine, I can handle this. Because I don't trust you enough now or have enough confidence in my ability to make this work, unless I have a contract, so I KNOW that you are MINE) 4) Belief that marriage is a FIX 5) if you marry me, i will become [confident, trusting, someone i'm not now...] 6) manipulation 7) control 8) Ultimatums

If it's not good enough now ...and getting better everyday. That's not gonna change in a positive way when there's a fence (marriage) to keep you. Marriage, like money, can amplify what's already there. If there is uncertainty, manipulative and controlling behaviors...

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How strong is your relationship?

Relationships come in a vast variety. Some are for business, pleasure, or intimacy. A healthy relationship, whatever the type, needs to consist of trust and respect; otherwise, it is flawed and due to hurt someone. An intimate relationship HAS to have 3 factors: Trust, Respect, and Love. Love is what usually draws 2 people into an intimate relationship. But if trust or respect are not well developed, the relationship will become unhealthy and one or more will be hurt. When you love someone, ask yourself if you feel trusted and respected and whether you trust and respect the other. 

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My Partner's a Porn Addict....

That’s not an unusual statement to hear these days. Whether it’s a celebrity discussing his porn addiction, or a partner of someone identifying as a sex addict – you have probably heard about this “epidemic.”
I, myself, am a little more suspect of the ability to be addicted to porn.

Addictions arephysical and psychological processes that include a variety of indicators, including withdrawal symptoms. I’ve yet to hear of a person who experiences the DT’s after stopping his viewing of pornography on –line.

That’s not to say that people don’t experience problems with their time spent looking at porn. We hear about that as well. However, poor decision making or compulsive, unaware behaviors don’t equal addiction.
Why is this important? I think telling someone they have an addiction – especially when it’s debatable if it’s scientifically possible to have such an addiction – is stigmatizing. More import...

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