Relate Well! Blog

Addressing the all-important and often perplexing topics and issues related to enhancing your personal growth and professional development

How Do I Get My Spouse to Help Me? Part I

In my years of counseling couples in marriage therapy, I have heard a lot of different reasons for the tension and anger that can create strife in even the best marriages. One that stands out as a frequent complaint – usually from the wife – is, “I can’t get my husband to help me around the house. What can I do?” 

Unequal division of labor related to children and household chores became a bigger and bigger challenge in the last few decades as wives and mothers entered the outside workforce. It creates resentment and hostility and often leads to conflict. In fact, a couple’s inability to effectively remedy this problem can significantly undermine the quality of intimacy and connection in their marriage. 

In the next three blog posts I will offer what I have found to be some highly effective tips for solving this very common and frustrating dilemma. 

First of all, it’s true that more wives struggle with this issue than husbands,...

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Seven Promises of a Successful Marriage

A marriage is created by a promise made, but it can only thrive by a promise kept. If you want your marriage to thrive commit to keeping these seven promises of a successful marriage. 

1. The Promise of a Lifelong Commitment - Never give up and commit to a mindset that divorce is not an option. 

“Too many couples marry for better, or for worse, but not for good.”

“Love… always hopes and always perseveres.” 

An elderly couple who, as they were paying for groceries in the check-out line, were discussing their upcoming 50th wedding anniversary, when the young cashier interjected by saying, "I can’t imagine being married to the same man for 50 years!" 

The wife wisely replied, teaching the young girl a lesson at the same time, "Well, Honey, don’t get married until you can."

2. The Promise of Protection – Guard your marriage from outside enemies such as addictions, financial problems, work/life...

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Are You Putting on an Act?

Lights! Camera! Action! When the spotlight of life is focused on you, what do people see? Are you an actor just playing a role or are you the “real thing?” Are you willing to let people see who you really are? Hollywood actors are paid big bucks to portray a make-believe character on the screen, but there are many people outside of “Tinsel Town” who put on a very convincing act every day without ever being paid a dime. In fact, many of them pay a high price. 

You don’t have to be a Hollywood star or public figure to be concerned with the way others perceive you. All of us are involved in personal image management to some degree, and in most cases, this is perfectly normal. In fact, thinking about who you will be with and what you will be doing is a reasonable way to determine what “image” to put on by dressing and behaving appropriately in a given situation. 

There is nothing inherently wrong with putting your best foot forward in...

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Overcoming the Effects of Verbal Abuse - Part I

What is Verbal Abuse?

What you say:  Verbal abuse is often defined as a pattern of verbal behavior characterized by harsh, demeaning, belittling and critical words or statements. Examples are, “You are worthless.”, “I wish you were never born.”, or “Can’t you ever do anything right?”

What you don’t say:  Verbal abuse is also defined as the absence of positive, encouraging and supportive words or statements, such as “you are special.”, “I knew you could do it.” or “I love you.”

The Effects of Verbal Abuse

In my practice I have had many adults tell me that the verbal abuse they suffered as a child did not impact them because they knew that their parents really loved them. Unfortunately, there can be damage to the child’s self-concept even if the parent doesn’t intend to do harm. Even the best parent can make hurtful comments when feeling overwhelmed or angry, and...

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Here Today, Gone Tomorrow: Make Parenting Count

Kurt and Emily stood beside Michael’s crib gazing in wonder at their brand-new baby son. The months of waiting were over, and the guest of honor occupied the beautifully decorated nursery at last. Kurt and Emily smiled at each other. They felt blessed beyond words. They were thrilled; they were fascinated – they were terrified! 

It has been said that the theories of child rearing are really quite simple; it’s only when we begin putting them into practice that they become difficult. Although parenting is as old as the human race, the challenges seem to grow more complicated as time goes on. 

Changes in society have moved children further away from the center of our care and concern. Two-career families, the rising divorce rate, loss of extended family support, and declining values all contribute to the difficult task of raising healthy, secure children. Yet we hear messages through various media that would have us believe that parenting is a part-time...

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Are you STILL angry?

Intimacy is the fuel that powers every couple’s emotional engine. It’s what makes your relationship special – those moments when you catch each other’s eye and laugh because you share an inside joke. It’s when you can ride in the car together in comfortable silence, or unashamedly sing a duet to “your song” playing on the radio. It’s getting excited to tell each other good news or needing to reach out to each other if there is bad news. It’s having someone who knows you inside and out and still loves and accepts you.

If this doesn’t sound like what you want in your marriage, and if you want a proven formula for killing intimacy in your relationship, here it is: Get angry at your spouse and never let it go. Rehearse this line, “I will never forgive…”

It is sad that many people experience a lack of intimacy in their marriages because of the negative emotions they harbor toward their spouse. I once...

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5 Keys to Being a Great Dad

What makes a great dad? I have found that great dads practice five key principles: love, discipline, nurturing, instruction and training, and provision and protection. Read the following five points, and you'll learn how to not only strengthen your role as dad, but you'll also understand what being a "great" dad is all about.

As a great dad, you will:

  1. Love your children.

Just as the foundation of a new home has to be poured before the building can be framed, a father's love for his family is the foundation that supports and sustains everything else he does. When your actions and decisions are motivated by love, your family is on solid ground.

  1. Discipline your children.

Discipline clearly defines the boundaries of behavior and often dictates where we can and cannot go. Remember, there's a big difference between discipline and punishment. Discipline is for the purpose of teaching your children good character and encouraging good choices. Punishment is often motivated by anger or...

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Blending Them In Without Mixing Them Up (Part 2 of 2)

In our previous blog we began talking about some ways to start out on the right foot if you re-marry and bring two families together. Those initial tips were: Make Your Marriage a Priority, Be Sensitive to Your Child’s Feelings, Develop Realistic Expectations and Be Supportive of Your Child’s Other Biological Parent. Those tips focus on ways to deal with the adjustment you and your children will go through with the life-changing step of blending them into a new family structure. Today we will share some ways to help your new family grow stronger and become closer.

Develop strong listening and communication skills

Effective communication and listening skills are vital to the success of any relationship. The true test of your skills comes when you are emotionally charged. It’s easy to say the right things when you feel happy, but throw in a little anger, a dash of jealousy and a pinch of disappointment and you have the ingredients for communication breakdown –...

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Blending Them In Without Mixing Them Up (Part 1 of 2)

One of my first introductions to a blended family was The Brady Bunch. Every Friday night, we tuned in to watch Mike Brady and his three sons and his new wife, Carol, and her three daughters skillfully navigate the challenges and pitfalls of their blended family -- and all in less than thirty-minutes.

Some say the Bradys didn’t have it as rough as most blended families, but, hey, what about the time the entire clan had to help Jan cope with the trauma of wearing glasses? Or when Greg was faced with the gut-wrenching decision of voting for someone other than his stepsister to be captain of the cheerleading squad? Boy, those were tough times! If not for the Solomon-like wisdom of Alice, the housekeeper, the Bradys could have easily ended up as just another divorce statistic.

If only step-parenting could be as easy as The Brady Bunch made it look! In reality, blending families together without mixing them up can be enormously difficult and challenging.

Studies show that half of...

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10 Things That Turn Women Off

Stressful times can really put a strain on relationships, and intimacy in marriage can be negatively affected when one or both partners are feeling the outside pressure. But even before Covid brought extra stress into our lives, mutually enjoyable intimacy was a delicate issue.

In counseling, men sometimes complain about their wives' lack of interest in physical affection and sexual intimacy, but further discussion often reveals that they often fail to understand how they might influence this indifference or lack of desire. It might come as a surprise, but a woman’s sexual desire has strong connections to some very non-sexy issues.

To get to the point: Guys, if you want more affection and intimacy in your marriage here are ten turn-offs you will want to avoid:

  1. Harsh words and a critical or dismissive tone of voice
  2. Impatience with the kids and the inability to balance discipline with fun and affection 
  3. Disinterest in meaningful conversation and pretending to listen 
  4. ...
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