Author: Connections Counseling

Are You Ready for Marriage? 10 Questions to Consider When Choosing the Right Partner

by Becky Wengreen, MFTI

It’s the biggest decision of your life. Are you ready to consider it? What do you know about yourself that makes you feel it’s time to move towards that next step? Maybe you have met “the one”—how do you know? Is your readiness based on attraction and passion alone? Marriage means experiencing life with someone who stands with you —shoulder to shoulder as a willing and committed partner. It’s important to be sure you have enough information about yourself to increase your chances of picking the right one for longterm happiness.

Family and Marriage Therapy in UtahHere are 10 questions to help you do that. These 10 questions are open ended and broad; created to help you explore and expound upon key concepts and beliefs in your life style. They are not meant to measure your “sameness” with another but are an aid to bring about awareness—to stimulate insight and understanding about the system that governs the way you live, or hope to live. Whether you’re in a current relationship or not, take adequate time to explore your inner beliefs, tendencies, and expectations.

1) What are your core values?
Is there a motto you live by? What shapes your everyday actions with others? What practices and principles govern your decisions? What do you hold dear? What can’t you live without? Why? Why not? (This may include concepts such as honesty, compassion, commitment, respect, loyalty, humor, courage, fitness, service, etc.)

2) Do you rely on a higher power?
Do you depend upon or have faith in a higher power? Does that power take first place over a spouse? If so what is your devotion to this power and how much does it influence your daily life decisions. When do you worship? Why do you worship? How important is it that your partner worship with you?

3) What are your beliefs surrounding money and spending?
What do you imagine your role being in a committed relationship when it comes to financial stability? Will you work? Are you the sole support? Is debt allowed? What are your feelings about spending? What are necessities and what are wants? Do you expect your partner to work or contribute financially? How much?

4) Do you have a short term and long term plan?
Where do you see yourself in 6 months or in one year? What are your goals five years from now and what are the steps you have taken to get there? In ten years where would you like to live? What education do you plan to have or not have? Do you want a vocation? Would you like to move away? How do you imagine yourself living?

5) What is your definition of Family?
What does a family mean to you? If family is of great importance then what do you imagine your future family to look like? Do you want children? How many? How and where do you see yourself raising them? What role will you play in the family and what role do you see your future partner playing? What duties or responsibilities do each of you hold? How does the family function? What relationships take priority? Who talks to who, how and when?

6) Who do you turn to in times of heartache, financial trouble, or hard times?
Now that you have a committed partner, is there room for others? Do you have friends outside of your marriage? How much time is spent with them? What conversations can you share with friends and what remains with in the bounds of your partnership? How much time is devoted to people outside the relationship? Do you have friends together? Separate? Both? Neither?

8) What is your Answerability?
In other words, are you able to be open, honest and accountable to another? Are you approachable with feedback? How do you feel when you are in a position of accountability? Are you teachable? Are you a team player, a leader or a dictator? What is your level of openness? Would you call yourself and open or a closed book? If so does it change with your relationships?

9) Do I change when under pressure? Sick or anxious?
Does your personality change when you’re stressed? Do you get quiet or withdrawn? Do you push through even when you feel lousy or ill? Do you get anxious? How would your partner know when you are? Do you cry? What happens? Do you notice? Can you tell when you’re anxious about certain topics, circumstances or people?

10) What is sex about in your relationship?
What does sex mean to you? When, how and why? What place will it have in your future? How much weight does it carry in the relationship? Are you comfortable talking about it? Are you at peace with your own sexuality?

As you take a look at yourself, you may gain insight regarding a compatible partner. Also, ask yourself if your answers are evident in the way you live; in other words, would others be able to guess some of the answers by the way you conduct your life. Next blog we will discuss the best place to look for that special someone!

 

Call today to schedule and appointment with Becky at 801.272.3420

Finding Our Authentic Self Again

by Alex Pratt, AMFT

“A thousand plastic flowers don’t make a desert bloom. A thousand empty faces don’t fill an empty room.”
― Frederick Salomon Perls

I have heard the line, “I just don’t feel like myself anymore,” many times both in therapy and from the people around me in my daily life. Our world seems to be increasingly concerned with how one is perceived by others. The obvious way that this plays out is on social media, where a majority of what we see paints the picture that everyone around us has life under control. What might be less obvious is how life has been eating away at our authentic self since childhood.

I don't feel like it

Many people learned that expressing painful emotion meant weakness. Some learned that their lofty aspirations weren’t a sign of hope, motivation, and self worth, but instead they were simply hopeless dreams that would result in failure. On that note, many learned that failing to achieve a goal would be unacceptable. These are all regular examples of lessons that often result in an individual stifling their emotions and sense of self to better adapt to the expectations of the world around them.

It is my belief, that this way of life is not sustainable. One who lives solely to meet other’s expectations will not find lasting happiness in doing so. It is my goal as a therapist to create an environment that enables my clients the freedom of self expression. As we learn to remove the restrictions placed on us that dictate how we are allowed to express emotion, what it means to fail, how hopeful we are allowed to be, and many others, a funny thing starts to happen… We become ourselves again. While a thousand empty faces won’t fill an empty room, a thousand authentic individuals will.

 

Call today to schedule and appointment with Alex at 801.272.3420

Where to Point the Finger?

by Nick O. Rowe, CSW

 

We have all been there right, “I reacted that way because she would not stop nagging me”. “He makes me so angry!” I am the only one that is making any effort around here!” These are common phrases that, at the root, are anchored in blame. It is fascinating that so many are willing to relinquish their ability to control their own words and behavior. Nobody can make you say or do anything and believing this erroneous idea is the breeding ground for anger and frustration. How often we try to control our spouse, partner or situation only to find that we have made it worse. How comforting it is to know that we have the ability to change our outlook by looking inward instead of outward.

The Blame Game

Blame is often a major factor in marital discord and is also used to satisfy the human need for an explanation of unwanted events or the cause of choosing action or inaction. For example, I may blame the school board for being bias as the reason I did not receive the acceptance letter. A mother experiencing a miscarriage may find herself looking to God as to why He would allow something so terrible to happen. One might blame an illness or disability as the reason for lack of success or happiness in life.

Human nature is to placate and pacify the underlying issue which at the core is pain. In almost all cases ranging from argument, tragedy or disappointments, blame can be linked to the desire to dull the hurt, looking at someone else instead of being vulnerable to feelings. As the old Native American Saying goes: “Every time you point a finger in scorn there are three remaining fingers pointing right back at you.”

When we feel that discomfort and we desire to point the finger can I suggest a healthy alternative by first taking a moment to ground yourself in the present? This may require practices of mindfulness, meditation or simply removing yourself from the situation so you can be alone with your thoughts. Once in that place, I and almost all my clients have found it helpful to ask one simple question. “Are the things I am saying and doing going to get me what I actually want?” Winning an argument at times may feel satisfying but in reality will always be a loss. This is easier said than done and will require practice and humility.

Let us now take that question a step deeper by calling it to action. “What can I say, do, or think to get me what I actually want?” You are in the driver seat at this point and in control of the outcome. Imagine if couples were willing to commit to this mindset together. There would be no breeding ground for resentment. There would be no harsh words said because the end result would not give them what they want.

May you experiment upon this suggestion and find the power and peace that comes when accountability replaces blame and thoughtful mediation allows you to ask the question to give you the freedom you seek and deserve. Let blame be a thing of the past and live a life that is full and within your control.

 

Call today to schedule and appointment with Nick at 801.272.3420

“I’m Struggling to Overcome My Pornography Addiction, How Do I Know If I Need a Higher Level of Treatment?”

by Kyle M. Reid, LMFT

Pornography Addiction Treatment

Working on overcoming an addiction to pornography can be a difficult and shameful experience. However, we often side on doing what is absolutely necessary but not required in treating our addictions.

Unfortunately, denial is one of the primary symptoms of any addict. Any addict wants to believe that they don’t “need” a counselor…or go to a SA group… or tell anyone about their issue. Every addict wants to believe that they can do this on their own. Sadly, this is a lie all addicts can themselves to avoid looking at the truth of their situation. As long as this lie is fed, the addiction isn’t going anywhere. The behavior might stop but it will most likely transfer to other addictions or problems.

In the end, recovery from a sex addiction isn’t really about the sex at all… or the food…. or the drugs…. It’s about learning to live with those things about ourselves that we fear the most to be true. It’s about facing the fear of connecting with others and trusting that others are not going to tell us that we just aren’t good enough…… When it comes down to it, addiction really is just an intimacy problem. The struggle to connect and bond with others. An addict always wants more but within the confines of what they can control. All addicts struggle to embrace accountability and vulnerability. So to answer the question…. It depends.

Not every addict “needs” a counselor, but if you find yourself asking this question to yourself and looking for evidence to support the “I will only do what is absolutely necessary” mentality, then you probably already know the answer to that question. What do you have to lose? The reality is an addict won’t change until they are ready and willing to do whatever it takes to overcome and change. Including…getting the necessary treatment.

 

Call today to schedule and appointment with Kyle at 801.272.3420

Can I Be Happy?

Can I Be Happy?by Kyle M. Reid, LMFT

In a lecture on vulnerability, Brene Brown discusses our tendency to be afraid of experiencing joy in our lives. She said, “When we lose our tolerance for vulnerability, joy becomes foreboding. I have never come across an emotion or affect [in my research] that is as difficult to feel as joy. Joy is probably the most vulnerable feeling or emotion that we experience. We are afraid to soften into it or lean fully into it because we are waiting… for the other the other shoe to drop” (clip from The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings on Authenticity, Connection and Courage).

In my experience as a clinician, I have seen this within myself and my clients. I truly believe that one of the biggest risks for mental health problems is when we refuse to find happiness in our present realities and relationships. Many of us often spend more time with our own fantasies than we do with the people who we claim to be the most important to us. We start to live our lives with what I like to call the “if/then factor.” We say to ourselves, “If I had more money, then I will be happy” or “If I had a different partner or a different relationship, then I could be happy.” We can do this for years never truly experiencing what it means to be happy or find joy in our lives. We long for the day when we can truly have joy. Then we compare our lives to those around us making assumptions that our “friends” have the happiness we seek. What many of us seem to forget in those moments is that our “friends” are most likely doing the same things to us in return. Many of us can’t see this because of our natural struggle as human beings to see the good in our present circumstances, whilst at the same time requiring little effort for us and others to see good in the lives of those around us.

Whether it’s waiting for the time when we can get married to the perfect person… or when we can have our first child… or when we can get our first house… or find our perfect career… the years start to pass by and the things that really matter to us in the end becomes neglected. The problem is that those things which bring us the most joy are often the things we are afraid of the most. Unfortunately, the relationships that we fear the most are the ones we come home to every day.

My challenge to those seeking joy in their lives is to start today with accepting the lot you have been given and chosen in life. Stay out of fantasy! Put down your cell phone or Ipad for the night and spend time with those you care about the most. Enjoy your time with them without thinking about your worries or fears of what’s to come your way. Don’t fret… I’m sure your worries and concerns will be there tomorrow when you wake up😉

Call today to schedule and appointment with Kyle at 801.272.3420