Posts Tagged ‘afraid’

Can your Love Relationship be Saved?

Written by Sharon Coulter, MA, PPS, MA LMFT on . Posted in Blog

Couples - trackDoes it feel like you and your partner are competitors instead of allies? Have the small kindnesses vanished from your daily interactions? Are you walking on egg shells for fear of saying something that will cause conflict, anger, or hurt? Do you avoid each other more than seek one another out?

When couples come for counseling because their relationship is in trouble, as a therapist my main goal is to watch for and understand the patterns that inevitably show up in a couple’s interactions, so together we can understand what is going wrong despite their best efforts. It is incredibly helpful to examine arguments because they are never about what they appear to be. That bears repeating: while couples get caught up in the details, the argument is almost never about what it appears to be. There is an important theme playing out as that conflict and BOTH partners are engaged in the dance that fuels it. Identifying the theme is the critical factor.

I believe we are always doing our best in the moment with the tools we have, but many of us didn’t witness healthy relationships in our parents’ interactions, and our awareness and skills need improvement. To be emotionally close to someone as we are in the early days or years of a relationship is a magical thing. To be in conflict with the person who we deeply love causes us immense anxiety, pain, and sadness—so why would we purposely inflict those feelings on ourselves if we knew how to avoid them.

Love relationships are amazing structures that can teach us about what we didn’t get growing up. We need to figure out what that is or we’re destined to seek it, unconsciously, in this relationship, and the next, and the next—usually in ways that leave us feeling alone, misunderstood, and end up sabotaging the partnership.

The First Step

Effective counseling requires that couples come out of their corners in the boxing ring and embrace a new position with regard to the relationship—a united front of honesty, curiosity, and collaboration. Yes, I know … much more difficult than it sounds. That’s why an objective and caring intermediary—pastor, therapist or counselor—can be vital. When couples are trying to fix their problems from a place of fear—which is the source of all conflict—solutions are extremely difficult to recognize. I support clients to identify that fear and investigate it with deep compassion.

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” ~ Einstein

Establishing a Positive Approach to Bedtime

Written by Sharon Coulter, MA, PPS, MA LMFT on . Posted in Blog

Are you and your child waging a daily war as bed time approaches? Do you feel stressed and anxious as you think of the inevitable struggle that’s become an ongoing event in your home? First, be assured this is a common issue, and second, know that your child is not being “difficult” but most likely has anxiety about being separated from you. This separation anxiety may arise for a number of reasons—some obvious and some not so obvious. Keep in mind that while they may not be able to verbalize many of their thoughts, toddlers and young children are highly sensitive and can sense stress and conflict in their environment. Being “difficult” or “acting out” may be their best attempt to try to communicate distress.

Establishing a predictable and positive bedtime tradition is key to making bedtime one you and your child can use to feel close and have fun while preparing your little one’s transition to sleep so you can put your feet up, catch up on chores, enjoy some alone time, or snuggle with your partner. Most importantly, make sure you allocate plenty of time for your child’s bedtime routine. This may mean pushing meal time up a little earlier. You want to create a bedtime tradition that your child eagerly looks forward to. Children love music so much and it’s a great transitional tool that teachers use frequently. And the beauty of bath time is that it not only teaches good self care and cleanliness, it relaxes your child’s muscles and has a calming effect.

At the appointed time, give your child a ten-minute advance notice that bath time is coming up. Put on some fun CDs of children’s songs and encourage your child to dance and sing as he/she gets undressed and you fill the bath with warm water, bubbles, and toys for playing.  You’ll be surprised how much longer children will enjoy bath time if they have music in the background that they can sing along to as they play. Encourage your child to think of bath time as one of quiet, enjoyable play, not just the means of getting clean that is a precursor to bed. Your child may be happy in the bathtub for up to a half hour or more. When ready, help your child out and into pajamas. Have a comfy chair selected, ideally in their bedroom or a quiet part of the home for reading. (Be firm about how many books your child can choose). Some parents may prefer to read books in the child’s bed. When reading is done, sing a couple of songs before you tuck in your child for the night. For children who are having an especially hard time separating from parents or are fearful of the dark, always be open to leaving on a night light in the room and leaving the door ajar. For these children, allowing them to fall asleep to a lullaby or story CDs is a good option as it focuses their attention away from anxious thoughts that may be interfering with sleep