When was your last tune up?

When was the last time you got your oil changed; its due every three months right? What about your dental appointment, every six months right? When was the last time your marriage had a tune up? We get our oil changed quarterly, teeth, bi-annually, but when was the last time you checked in with your spouse? Maybe you feel that because you still cook, clean, take care of his kids, or (fellas) work hard, bring flowers every Wednesday, buy her everything she needs. But is that enough? Maybe he’s tired of the same sex positions, maybe she’s tired of “just because” roses every third Wednesday. News flash: 🌹 “just because it’s Wednesday,” played out 4 years ago 🌹 lol.

When was the last time you asked your significant other, are you happy? Why do we just assume they are happy because we offer what we “feel” makes them happy. Did the same thing that made you happy 6 years ago, still makes your day-today? Life changes, we grow, priorities change. 6 years ago, I didn’t care about dishes because we didn’t have kids…..well now I do and if you did them from time to time, it would be amazing (for example 😜). We often assume we know our partners are happy because we may not want to face the truth that they may not be. That is the hard part, right, to actually hear of unhappiness in your household.

Below are three questions that should be asked,every few months,or bi annually at the least…..kinda like that dental appointment we never seem to miss.

1. Are you happy?

I told you all before, I love my scaling questions, as they measure for progress, when working with clients. So possibly offering it in a scaling style. For example, On a scale of 0-10, with 0 being the worst and 10 being the best, how happy are you with the way our marriage/relationship is? Numbers are great, versus saying “good,” or “I’m happy.” I’m a gal that like details, so pick a number please! Ha ha

2. What areas need improvement?

This is a great area to explore, as we often feel that when someone is not as happy as we are, or maybe even happier, first understand that we often see things differently-hence the need for this conversation.

3. What do you need from me?

Please pay attention to the response you get from this- this is a very powerful question. Sometimes a partner may not be happy in a marriage because of their own inability to manage time, unresolved personal issues, etc. They may very well just need you to keep doing what you are doing, while they put more effort into xyz. However, if he/she says “I need you to….” then work on ways to do that for the overall healthiness of your marriage.

Longevity does not equal success (I need to coin this phrase). Don’t assume what you don’t know because you fail to ask. If you don’t change your oil, it will run out and your head gasket will blow. Don’t let your marriage run without routine maintenance-or it will blow too.

Broken people can’t create a whole relationship

I love the quote “broken crayons still color.” In fact, that was one of the few names I had for this blog, until I saw others had it as well. I love this quote because it signifies resilience. Just because you are broken, does not mean you throw in the towel. You are still operational, don’t give up, you can still color. However, in relationships, I would not offer the same sentiment.

Yes, the broken crayons still color, but they are still broken, right? Often people want to enter new relationships as a means to get over the past one, not realizing the hurt, jealousy, insecurities they still harbor. Ever heard the saying “the best way to get over someone is to get under another one?” Dumbest advice ever! We expect the next person coming along to deal with the emotions, pick up the broken pieces, mend them, and prove that they are not your ex……But Why? Why bring your baggage into a new situiationship (yes, I said that) and expect us to prove ourselves, and deal with insecurities that have nothing to do with us? It is not fair, and actually, the relationship is starting off all wrong.

Here’s an idea: heal yourself, don’t expect someone else to do it. Don’t let the new person bear the load and emotional strain that occurred before him/her? Take your time, work on yourself, not to just be better for someone else, but for a better you as well. Don’t be the broken crayon still trying to color, be the refurbished one that has been through some things, was fixed, and can color as good as before.

Have you been thinking about becoming a therapist?

Being a therapist is very hard and draining work. However it is very rewarding. Below I will highlight some important factors to consider when deciding to become a therapist.

  1. TIME! I placed this in all caps because time is a very important factor when deciding to become a therapist. Many people think that once they are out of school, they will automatically become a therapist. Combining education (2-3.5 years), and post grad hours (2-3) years, it may take anywhere from 4 to 6 years to become a therapist. So patience is key. Consider if you are willing to put in the time necessary to be in this field.
  2. Cost. Program costs is an extremely important factor in the field of therapy. Is the program accredited? What type of school is it  (brick an mortar, for profit)? For example, where I received my master’s online (Capella), costs more than what it would have, if I would have attended my undergrad university for their master’s program. However, the online program was for-profit, and had more accreditations. So look at the cost of the program and determine if the investment is worth it. Post grad, you have exams, depending on the program. The AAMFTRB exam is $350. Supervision, if you are not working at an agency (who mostly offer free supervision), expect to pay your supervisor anywhere from $50-$175 or more. I will go more into supervision in another post, but keep in mind that supervision is required for at least 2 years, for most post grad therapy degrees. for example,  $100 per hour x 200 hours = $20, 000 in supervision costs. Marinate on that.
  3. The humbling years. Coming out of school, I knew I wanted to work with families. As a practicum student, or post graduate therapist, your options are limited-and sometimes it depends on the state. I worked in community based counseling for internship, and it was draining. It was mostly teens, and that was not my niche, however, I needed the hours. Post grad, I moved, and did not want to go back into community based counseling, and ended up doing the same thing. There is much trauma, and it extremely draining, but it looks amazing on your resume. People often say, if you can work community-based, you can work anywhere. The experience gained is like no other, but it is very humbling, and may not be what you are looking for after school, but will definitely assist you in becoming a more well rounded therapist.

Check back for part II.

Gray Is A Place

So I have a confession, I love the color gray, or grey-depending on where you live. People say why gray, “it’s a boring color,” or its dull and blah blah blah. Those often are the very ones who believe, it is either black or white and no in between. Those people are often referred to as “absolutes.” Absolutes believe there is either and or. Well, my rebuttal to that is: there is this word I love-resilient. Resilience is the “overcoming of,” “pushing through,” “beating the odds,” and not giving up. Gray is a place to me, and should be to you, because it’s where you find your true colors, where your light begins to become more clear. Gray is a place where you regroup, re-strategize, and discover new meaning. Gray is a place of reflection, where you learn and grow from your mistakes, and/or failures, in or to redeem further success. If this world was absolute, then why mix the two colors together? Uncertainty is normal and healthy; you don’t have to pretend to have it together.

Life does not always go according to plan. We fail, life changes and so do our goals. Relationships that were supposed to last-didn’t, we lose our jobs- I can go on and on. Don’t feel bad about being uncertain; go to your gray place and rediscover your color. Gray is where the magic happens and your life begins to flourish.

Dating while Married

I know this title may have caught you off guard; maybe that was my intention. Let me ask you this, married people: when was the last time you dated your spouse? When was the last time you actually planned a date with your spouse? The great thing about a marital bond, is you know there is a great chance that your spouse will be (physically) there when you get home. What what about emotionally though? We get so settled, and caught up perfecting other areas in our lives, that we forget about the core. Healthy emotional attachment is of of the many keys to a successful relationship-and with that, is consistently dating. Below you will read a few important tips about dating:

-Keep it consistent. Plan for every third Saturday night, every two weeks, or what fits your schedule, as long as you stick to that date.

-Mix it up. By exploring different things , you may learn some things about your partner that you never knew. It doesn’t have to be a movie night all the time. Some other options could bowling, dancing lessons, or working out together.

-Have fun! Need I say more?

Consistent dating your spouse is not about spending money or simply getting dinner. It is about displaying your commitment to continuous relational growth. Also, it emphasizes that no matter how crazy life gets with work, school, and kids, we won’t forget to put as much love and effort into each other, as we do all other entities in our life.

The fate of a 50/50 relationship

Have you ever heard someone say that relationship ships are 50/50? Have you said it? If so, please stop. The notion that relationships like this equate success, is absurd-let me tell you why.

For starters, it is simple math, which unlocks the key to the rest of this post. 50 is half of 100…..ooohhh, did you catch that? Yes, folks, 50 is only half, so how is one giving half of their self and expecting a complete and fulfilled relationship? This is extremely impossible. What is possible, however, is a relationship that will end in failure. We put our ALL into our children, career, and even school, so why are our relationships different? You don’t divide duties in a relationship, no one says “Well, I’ll give you half of my loyalty, and you give half of yours.” That sounds ridiculous saying it, right? Matter of fact, how about this:

1. Get a piece of paper and pencil.

2. Draw a half circle, look at it for a moment.

That represents 50%, leaving the circle looking similar to the letter c. So your half circle, allows space for outside influences to come in and interfere (e.g., family, jealous friend, ex). Now add the other half of the circle, this is what completion looks like. When you give your whole self, 💯, outside influences are non existent!

Remember, relationships, especially marriages, aren’t 50-50. But you know what is- divorce. Divorce rates are every on of two. Control your narrative, give your all, not half, and watch the flower blossom.

What Makes a Marriage Successful?

One in two marriages end in divorce, according to Psychology Today. In addition, of the 50%, two-thirds stated that their marriage could have been repaired. What are the top reasons on for divorce? Finances and communication. As a marriage and family therapist, this subject is very important to me. We often look at older couples, and wonder what the trick is. I often thought this, as well, in my early stages of marriage. After 9 years of marriage and 12 years together, I have complied a list of what it takes for a marriage to be successful. Now before I begin, I want to preface by stating three things: 1. This doesn’t mean that your marriage will be perfect everyday and from time to time, you won’t want to be in each other’s presence 😜. Marriage is work, meaning you try everyday to be the best spouse you can be, just as you try to be the best boss, co worker, or parent, but expect mistakes. 2. There are a couple of things here, I did not do, because I was neither told, nor taught the importance. So it took me some time, arguments and counseling to understand what keeps a marriage successful. Lastly, longevity does not equate success. Just because you have been married 20 years, does not mean it is successful. I know people who have been married over 25 years, and just live together, and have been living separate lives for years. However, read below for my tips.

1. Premarital Counseling<<<
many of you can say that you argue more than you have civil conversations? What about “He doesn’t understand me” or “She complains about everything? ” What if I told you that effective listening is a skill that many of us do not have. Counseling teaches you the language one another, so you can listen and respond in a way that is effective. I’ll speak more on this below. But also premarital counseling gives you the opportunity to learn all of those things that you never thought to ask. These particular counselors gives assessments that covers areas such as: finances, love language, family history, and more. Many people fail to learn the important things about their significant other that can have a significant affect on their relationship and (future) family. For example, what if she has a FICO score of 480, that may make you feel some type of way. What about if his father and grandfather both were bipolar? There is a possibility that he may be bipolar or it can translate down to your children; this is a genetic mental illness. Again, premarital counseling assists you in learning what you never thought to ask. And if you cannot afford it, there is a checklist online of questions/ conversations that should be asked before you walk doesn’t the aisle.

2. Communication<<<
s is the second leading cause of divorce. As stated above, communication is a skill. Just because we hear it, does not mean we know how to receive it. And just because we are delivering it, does not mean, we are delivering it in an effective manner. Women are often more emotional beings, whereas men are more rational. We want them to know, understand and solve our problems, without us having to open our mouths. And yes, there are times, when men know exactly what the problem is and how to fix it. However, many men that I have come across always state that “I don’t know what you don’t tell me.” So understand the others’ style of communication is imperative to growth. Here is another one…….when was the last time you asked your spouse if he/ she is happy with the way things are going? That simple question can save a marriage because we are so great at hiding things, or placing our focus elsewhere (work, kids, friends) that we assume things are great just because we are happy and fulfilled. I believe that checking in with your spouse on their level of happiness, every few months, will do wonders for your relationship.

3. Your Spouse Should be Your Best Friend<<<
, I said it!!! Some of you may not agree, and this okay. I have ladies in my life that I consider my closest friends, more like my sisters, but they will never have more of me than my spouse. Your spouse should be your number one supporter, provider and comforter. Sure, you have those friends that you yearly trips with, talk on the phone with at 7pm every night, and share precious moments with. But when you having a friendship within your marriage, which many people don’t have, conversations and overall happiness is better. It just improves the overall quality of your marriage.

4. Not Losing Yourself<<<
s could easily be number 2 or 3, because it happens at one point in every relationship. When most people go through a divorce or breakup, they wonder ” Who am I?” This is because we dedicate so much time and effort to our relationships with our spouse, children and work, we forget about the most important relationship: the one we have with ourself. We stop reading, painting, shopping with friends, or whatever it is that brought you joy, because we replaced that with making everyone else a priority. Always make time for the things that make you happy. If it is being home alone, tell him to take the kids for a few hours. If it is hitting the gym, or whatever it may be, carve out that time. You too are special, and you should not lose yourself to try and please others. Have your selfish moments, I promise they will be there when you get back.

ther mentions:

Spirituality/Religion- Keep this at the center of your life and never lose site of it, if this is what your relationship is based on.

Finances: This is the leading cause of divorce. Discuss which financial route works best for your marriage. I know many people who keep separate accounts and it works for their marriage, and vice versa. But have those conversations often, so there are no surprises.

I am interested to learn: have any of these worked for you, or do you have anything to add?