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Having a baby can be hard on a relationship... Let us help you enjoy this time with your partner!

I am excited to announce that Shubha Swamy, LPC, and I will be hosting our Hey Baby! couples workshop for new parents again on September 29th, 2018. Couples will spend the day learning real techniques to help keep their relationship strong as they add a new baby to the family. 

By the end of the day, couples will have learned communication skills that will help them navigate difficult conversations, how to preserve intimacy, ways to strengthen their friendship, techniques to help bond with their baby, and the signs of postpartum depression / anxiety and where to get help.

We hope you will join us for an entertaining day that will benefit your relationship for a long time to come. 

How to stay connected with your partner during the holidays

It's official, we are smack dab in the middle of holiday season. Often this time of year is so busy with fun (and not so fun) activities and obligations, that we end up feeling like we need a vacation by the end of it! Even though the holidays can be full of joy and wonder, they can also be a time full of stress and high expectations. Snippy comments or full blown arguments with your partner can often be the result of this stress.

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But wait! Don't fret!

Here are 4 ways to stay connected with your partner during the holidays. (Pssst... these are ways couples can stay connected year round!)

1) Set Realistic Expectations

Before you are knee deep in holiday cheer, discuss with each other what your hopes and expectations for the holidays are. What are the things that are most important to each of you? What are the things that you are willing to (and not willing to) compromise? Perhaps you will be spending the holidays at the in-laws, but you feel it's important that you, your partner, and your children spend some time together. Make a game plan ahead of time for how the things that are important to each of you can happen. 

2) Make Couple Time a Priority

Intentionally set aside time during the holidays to connect as a couple. Perhaps you can make a new tradition with your partner such as exchanging gifts just the two of you, or going on a special date. Quality time together can be as easy as sharing a glass of wine by the fire or going for a walk while the grandparents watch the kids. The time you spend together doesn't have to be fancy, but it does need to be a priority. If time together isn't intentionally planned, it can be the first thing to go when we get busy.

3) Create a Culture of Appreciation 

Sometimes we take our partners for granted and do not recognize all the little (or big) things they do to help our family. And sometimes we feel taken for granted ourselves. Couples can create a culture of appreciation in their relationship by noticing the things that their partner does and by saying "thank you." Try to catch each other doing something good, and acknowledge it when you see it. When you pay extra attention to the helpful things they do, you might be surprised how many you can find! During a time where everyone is busy, a simple "thank you" can go a long way.

4) Self-Care, Self-Care, Self-Care!!

This last one may sound counterintuitive, but it's true! In order to not let the holiday stress come between you and your sweetie, you need to take care of you. With holiday parties, family obligations, gift buying, etc., etc., etc. It can be easy to forget about the self-care. Try to add in some solo or family activities that include exercise and schedule down time to recharge your battery. Simply taking a few minutes to practice some deep breathing can be a great stress reducer.

Remember this time of year isn't about the gifts, the food, the parties... it's about spending time with the ones we love. Now go and create some memories together! Wishing you all a happy holiday season!

Want more? Check out a few more posts about improving your relationship here.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

I'm continuing with the theme this week of how to improve your relationship with your partner.

This video explains the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse, which are communication patterns that will lead to the end of your relationship. And more importantly, it talks about the antidotes if these communication patterns have found a way into your relationship.

Worth a quick watch...check it out!

Certain negative communication styles are so lethal to a relationship that Dr. John Gottman calls them the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. They predict relationship failure with over 90% accuracy if the behavior isn't changed. So, what can you do? Practice these four research-based antidotes to save your relationship from certain destruction.

How to make love last

What is it that makes a relationship stand the test of time? I wish I had an easy answer for that one! But I can share that strong relationships have one thing in common, and that is trust. According to relationship expert Dr. John Gottman, trust is one of the most important things to make love last. 

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Often the conflicts that couples have are related to questions of trust. Can I trust that you will be here for me? Will you will put our relationship first? Can I trust that you will be faithful to me? Can I trust that you will take care of our kids? Will you take my side? Can I trust you to comfort me when I've had a bad day? Will you be emotionally available? Can I trust you to love me for who I am?

So how do you build and nurture trust? According to Gottman, trust is built in the small every day moments. He calls them sliding door moments, based on the movie Sliding Doors. In these moments you are paying attention to your partner and their emotional needs, and you make the choice to connect with your partner.  Sliding door moments happen quick and they happen all the time. You have a choice how to respond.  

An example of a sliding door moment that I like to share with my clients in therapy, is one that Dr. Gottman talks about from his own relationship. One night he was tired and wanted to get into bed to read a book. But as he passed by the bathroom, he noticed that his wife looked sad. In that moment, she didn't see him so he had a choice. Does he go into the bathroom and ask her what's wrong? Or does he get in bed and read the book he was excited to get back to? She would never know the difference. Spoiler alert-- he went into the bathroom. By responding in that way, he turned towards his wife and built trust. 

In the video below, Dr. Gottman talks more about sliding door moments.

The renowned marriage expert explains that couples build trust in the small moments of a relationship, when we're emotionally attuned to our partner. Learn more tips on how to build trust here: greatergood.berkeley.edu

In couples therapy, a lot of the work we do is learning how to strengthen trust and intimacy. We focus on how the couple can recognize those sliding door moments and how to respond in a way that that brings them closer to one another. 

Read more about couples counseling with me.