Summer Romance and Love Maps

 


After counseling many couples, one of the biggest complaints that I hear is that 'the romance has faded.' One of my favorite exercises in "Gottman" is the Love Map exercise. You can buy these cards at their website, www.gottman.com or you can buy the app and download it on your smart phone. Updating your Love Maps will help you reconnect with your partner. Love Maps entail how well you know one another. How well do you know your partner's worries, fears, goals, etc. If you aren't familiar with Love Maps, here is an example. 

Instructions: Sit facing each other, one of you asks the other the first question below. The listener then answers the question as it relates to your partner's world. For example:

Speaker: "What is your partner's favorite thing to do in their free time?"
Listener: "I think you like to read in your free time." -or- "I'm not sure, what is your favorite thing to do in your free time?"

Keep alternating and taking turns. This will help you get to know one another. Remember to be gentle with one another and do not keep score. The following questions are just a place to begin.

  • Describe your partner's vision for your life together over the next five years.
  • Who is your partner's favorite band or musician?
  • What would be an ideal job for your partner?
  • What is your partner's favorite movie?
  • What is most relaxing to your partner?
  • What is your partner most afraid of?
  • What is your partner's dream vacation?
  • What is your partner's worst childhood experience?
Do not give advice to one another and offer gentle corrections. This is not meant to lead to a solution. Remember, a committed relationship is a work in progress.



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Work and Relationship Balance

 


These days finding balance between work and a relationship, may seem like the tip of the iceberg. Don't forget, there are also friends, family (kids if you have them), personal errand and responsibilities, etc. These days being over-busy is the norm in our society. Relationships are the ones that suffer. We, unfortunately, set them last as a priority. Not only do you need to schedule them first, but you need to schedule time for 'fun' in your relationship. Here are five tips to help you balance work and a relationship:

  1. Love the person, not their title. Nothing is certain in today's economy. First and foremost, make sure you have fallen in love with the person and not their title or position. Make sure you can take care of yourself with or without the person.
  2. Balance sacrifices. If one or both of you would like to pursue a demanding career, then you can almost guarantee that sacrifices will have to be made for the good of that career. Balance is created over long periods of time. Make sure to accept and acknowledge the importance of your partner's sacrifice for your career.
  3. Share household duties. No one likes to come home to a dirty house. Make sure to divvy up the household chores in a clear manner. If you don't, this can lead to ongoing arguments for the…

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Top 5 Signs You Need Couples Counseling

 


"Whenever your're wrong admit it; Whenever you're right shut up." Ogden Nash

We all dream of growing up and finding the partner of our dreams. We are told there is nothing better in this world than finding the one you love, and living happily ever after. But, we all know the honeymoon doesn't last forever. Here are the top five signs that it's time to seek couples counseling:

  1. Gridlock - this is when you can't agree on anything. The same argument keeps coming up over and over. Neither will budge.
  2. Can't accept influence from your partner. I hear this all the time in my practice. 'Why can't you ever see things my way?' It's easy to get set in your ways, but eventually everything changes. We have found couples that accept influence from one another have a happier marriage.
  3. Can't compromise. If you are in a relationship, then you know the importance of compromise. We make compromises all the time. We not only make them in our relationships, but we make them at work and with our friends, etc. 
  4. Keeping score. Remember, it doesn't always have to be 50/50. Many of us are raised to believe that life is always fair. I'm sure you have found out that this is not true, and it's not always true in your relationship. Start focusing on…

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Three Myths About a Happy Marriage

 


Couples are always relieved to hear that even the "happiest" couples have fights. Many counselors will say that good communication in a marriage is what will make it work, and the couple will be happy. We have found that to be a myth. This started with a Psychologist by the name of Carl Rogers. He believed that non-judgemental listening and acceptance of another's feelings creates rapport. When couples try this it creates distress in the relationship. When a couple does find a benefit from this, they will often relapse into their old conflicts within a year. Here are three myths about marriage:

  1. Major differences of opinion will destroy a marriage. We have found that most marital conflicts can't be resolved. For example, Megan wants to have a third child and Donald does not. Dana always flirts at parties and James hates it. Couples spend years and huge amounts of energy trying to change their partner. Significant disagreements are about values and different ways of seeing the world - things that don't change. The successful couple knows this and attempts to live with the disagreement. When people feel criticized or judged there is no chance they will change. Try to accept your partner's position, and manage the conflict. 
  2. Happy marriages are unusually open and honest. The truth is plenty of marriages shove a lot…

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The Truth About Arguing in Your Relationship

 


The number one reason couples come to see me for counseling is, 'we just don't know how to communicate, anymore.' Our research in Gottman has shown that it's not how often a couple argues that will predict whether or not the couple stays together. It's how they argue that predicts whether or not they will stay together. I tell couples that they need to learn to have an ongoing dialogue about conflict. Here are four tips that will help you in your relationship the next time you have a conflict:

  1. Stop being critical. Also known as attack. Learn the gentle start up. Your body language and tone also say a lot. Remember to use a nice tone and body language when talking to your partner. For example, ask your partner to listen to you that you need to talk about something that is important to you.
  2. Stop being defensive. Take responsibility for your behavior. For example, the next time you notice you are being defensive with your partner, ask them if you can start over. This will let your partner know you are taking responsibility for your behavior and you are going to change it.
  3. Stop contempt. Learn to build a culture of appreciation in your relationship. Learn to accept influence from one another in your relationship and share your past triumphs. For…

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Lianne Avila, MFT
1510 Fashion Island Blvd.
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San Mateo, CA 94404

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