Connecting Lovingly

In Uncategorized on February 2, 2015 at 7:49 pm

Marriage has been on my mind a lot lately. Not only because of the couples I see who work hard to better theirs, but also because I am in one. I learned in college that 50% of marriages end in divorce. I also know that some marriages are far from happy. What makes a marriage good? Enjoyable? Fulfilling? Heidi Stevens wrote an article in the Chicago Tribune in 2014 about Chapman’s Five Love Languages. I even mentioned this in my recent interview for the North Shore Weekend ( as it really resonated with me.

The Five Love Languages are words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch. You can find your own love language here: It really helps when you are trying to better your relationship to know what is meaningful to your partner and not to assume that just because one language is meaningful to you that he/she agrees.

Heidi Stevens also wrote about a breakdown of kindness. She talked about how much easier it is to rush in when things are not going well for your partner, but that we also need to be validating and celebratory about the other things. “That’s great” doesn’t cut it; Rather, “Wow! You worked hard for that. I am so proud of you and can’t wait to celebrate” goes a lot further.
But this article also had me thinking back to the languages again. The above example, the words of affirmation, would work for me. Someone else might want a hug or a gift or a dinner.

In my office couples are easily able to identify what hurts their feelings. However, they are rarely able to express what their spouse feels with empathy or take responsibility for their own hurtful actions with out a lot of processing and guidance. Then to work on meeting halfway—that’s a whole lot more work to still feel heard and validated while at the same time to listen and validate their spouse.

I have such good intentions with my husband and my marriage. I wake up each day knowing that quality time with him is crucial. But then emails, calls, work, kids (the list goes on and on) all seem to take precedent. I wrote him a letter as part of a New Years Eve activity. I made promises to him for 2015 and he will get the letter mailed to him in December. I’ll see if I came through on my intentions. Will you come through on yours?

Connecting With Focus

In Uncategorized on October 23, 2014 at 6:52 am

I am my toughest critic.  It took me a lifetime to figure that out, but yet it still doesn’t stop me from continuing to be just that.  I am also quick to recognize self-critics in others, especially in my clients who are often given my own special diagnosis of “hard on yourself”.  I am fortunate because my clients are willing to be reflective with me, and work towards change and practical solutions. 

What about those out there who only add fuel to this inner fire?  I thought about this as I read another article about attachment parenting.  Another article about how parents are fixing everything for their kids so their young adult children are then lacking in coping skills and resiliency and consequently find that anxiety overwhelms them regularly.  Parents are providing so much these days:  Sports, lessons, tutors, electronic games and gadgets, transportation, spontaneous treats and anything else they can provide.  But are they providing quality time?

Ill never forget when, as a new mom, I read that young children only need 10-15 minutes a day of good quality time.  Whew, did I breathe a sigh of relief.  Because whether it’s the walk to school or the tucking in at night, or making time to sit and really talk (and listen!), ten to fifteen minutes was all I could find in my day.  I still strive to find that time.  Because driving them to practices or rushing around with other mundane chores does not build relationships.  But my closed laptop, phone-less, genuine listening, thoughtful guidance and focused attention are what shuts up my inner critic.  And if I can be that person for all my clients, I can certainly find 10-15 minutes a day for my sons. 

Connecting through Change

In Uncategorized on May 21, 2014 at 4:07 pm

Why would someone go to therapy?  Because of significant traumas, severe depression, a personality disorder (borderline, bipolar, schizophrenia)?  Or because of debilitating anxiety and panic attacks?  Perhaps it is more of a feeling of being stressed and overwhelmed, or a little sad and not sure why.  Maybe it’s grief or figuring out a big decision or developing executive functioning skills or digging out the buried self-motivation.  If I asked each of my clients that question, I think I would get that many different answers.  I used to try to simplify those answers under the big umbrella of “to make life better”.  While that may be true, at least on some levels, there are so many other reasons.  Some may say my (mom, dad, spouse) said it would help me.  Others did a whole lot of research and decided what kind of therapy they wanted (practical, cognitive behavioral therapy usually) and what specific goal they wanted to work on (depression, stress, anxiety, anger).  I think others would say they have a whole lot going on in their head and don’t want to burden their loved ones with all they deal with, so they use their therapy time to unload (one of my first blogs was titled “Empty Your Head”).  But in today’s consumer-driven world, combined with my own personal impatience, I think most of my clients are looking for some immediate change and success.  And as most of you know, change is not always driven by logic (because if it were, nobody would smoke, overeat or do drugs) but it requires emotion.  And to really make changes, the kind I can help you make, we need to do emotional work.  It is hard, but it is good.  We figure things out.  “Things” being strategies and insights.  We go deeper.  We figure out even more.  And then change happens.  And life gets better.  



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