Tag: marriage

The Bachelor

By Jeff Bennion, ALMFT

The Bacheloris one of the most popular reality TV shows out there. It is tremendously popular, especially among women because it plays into many of their fantasies about love, desire and relationships: to be romanced, to be object of attention and desire, to be seen as beautiful, to be pursued by a handsome and successful man, to have a beautiful wedding. Recently, there was a great deal of outrage when the latest bachelor, Arie Ludendyk, unceremoniously dumped the woman he gave the rose to on the show’s finale, Becca Kufrin, and instead got engaged to the runner up, Lauren Burnham. There was so much anger, one state representative proposed legislation proposing to bar Mr. Ludendyk from entering his home state of Minnesota.

When I heard the news, however, I wasn’t surprised. I’m frankly surprised that any of these relationships last, because this is about the worst possible way to enter into a marriage (or any long term, committed relationship). Putting twenty people together and having someone choose which of these is the best doesn’t build a foundation for a stable and mutually trusting relationship, in fact it encourages the opposite, as it encourages the Bachelor to always be on the lookout for someone better than the woman he is currently with. (Reverse the genders, if you would like, with the equally harmful Bachelorette show.) When a relationship is built on that foundation, how can that idea suddenly be turned off? Why, after the beautiful couple say “I do” should that constant lookout for someone undefinably better suddenly and magically get turned off? And how often do people watching the show decide that they “deserve” to have a relationship like the one depicted on this show, and become discontented  when they compare their relationship to the slickly and expensively produced ones portrayed on this TV show?

We hear about Darwin’s natural selection and think that species ruthlessly compete until all of them go extinct except one. In capitalism, we think that companies ruthlessly compete until one becomes overwhelmingly dominant. The Bachelor takes this idea to the dating world. The problem is, in each of these situations (biology, business, and relationships) that idea is wrong. Species do all they can to avoidp directly competing with each other. They try to find unique niches where they are best adapted to thrive, and they leave other niches where other species can attempt to do the same. Businesses will try to change their offerings in contrast to their competition in order to provide a feature that is uniquely compelling to a certain segment of the market. And in relationships, people don’t all line up on a stage and hope they get picked. At least not if they hope to be happy in a relationship. Successfully partnered people have determined their unique abilities and gifts and then found someone who appreciates their unique and individualized value as a person.

Relationships cannot be determined, and much less formed, through multiple choice. Each relationship is a yes or no, true or false question. If no, move on to the next one, with valuable lessons learned about yourself. If yes, then go deeper and take it to the next level of intimacy risking ever-deeper growth, self-examination and self-disclosure. In that process, you build something beautiful together.

There is an anonymous quote titled “The Marriage Box” that reads,

Most people get married believing a myth that marriage is beautiful box full of all the things they have longed for; Companionship, intimacy, friendship, etc… The truth is, that marriage at the start is an empty box, you must put something in before you can take anything out. There is no love in marriage, love is in people, and people put love in marriage. There is no romance in marriage, you have to infuse it into your marriage. A couple must learn the art, and form the habit of giving, loving, serving, praising, of keeping the box full. If you take out more than you put in, the box will be empty.

That’s why, when I watch the Bachelor, I see twenty-one beautifully wrapped yet empty boxes. Nothing on that program shows people how to put anything of long term value into their marriage (relationship) boxes. By that omission, it tells a very dangerous lie that it’s the appeal of the box that matters the most, not what you put in it. I cannot think of a more damaging idea to bring into a long term relationship and hope that it can last.

Call today to schedule and appointment with Jeff at 801.272.3420

Marriage Mythbusters: Mindreading

By Jeff Bennion, LMFT

Very often, what we think we should have gets in the way of what we do have. Couples will come into my office complaining about what they don’t have, and it blinds them to what they have and what they can have. Marriage can be a wonderful experience, leading to growth and happiness for each partner as well as their children, but it is often made more difficult by unrealistic and even harmful myths that are propagated by society and the media. Much of our time in therapy is spent “busting” these marriage myths.

Just like the popular TV Show “Mythbusters” that takes a look at various widely believed stories and puts them to the test, in this series of blog posts I thought we’d examine some popular but unhealthy marriage myths, and replace them with a more helpful and realistic idea.

One that I hear frequently in session is when the sentence starts with, “He/she should know that I…”  It is wonderful to have someone who gets us, and the popular idea of the “soulmate” is someone who knows you so well, he or she can read your mind. The first one up on the docket is the idea that your spouse, your “soulmate” should know what you’re thinking and feeling at every moment.

Soul Mates

If you have this belief, it is important to ask yourself where you got this idea, and how it may be harming your relationship, and preventing you from truly enjoying the person you are with. While it might be nice to have someone so in tune with our every thought, a more valuable skill in a partner is someone who will listen to you supportively and help you to express yourself.

In reality, more important than knowing what someone else is helping your spouse know that his or her feelings are safe and welcome, and one of the best ways to help your partner with that is to ask open questions. Open questions are questions that invite the person to reflect, to do deeper, and they also express that the questioner is really interested in what the person is thinking or feeling.

Here are some examples of open questions that would be good to ask, and some examples of some questions NOT to ask. Bad questions are ones that are accusatory, and aren’t really about getting an answer.

Open questions Closed questions
  • You seem a little down today. I’d like to hear more about what you might be feeling.
  • Why are you always so grumpy?
  • Tell about some of your favorite experiences you’ve had eating dinner.
  • Why can’t you ever get it through your head that I hate Italian food?
  • How can I better support you in your career?
  • When are you going to get around to finally applying for that promotion?
  • Is there some kind of physical expression of affection that might help you feel loved in this moment?
  • Why won’t you have sex with me more often?

Of course, sincerity counts too. If the open questions are just a way to manipulate your partner into doing something you already want

Letting go of our unrealistic  and unhealthy idea of our spouse as a mind reader, and replacing that idea with a willingness to be open and communicate can lead to a big improvement. No one is perfect, but with love and support, it can really make life better. As someone once said, “everyone comes with baggage. Find someone who loves you enough to help you unpack.

veryone-comes-with-baggage-find-someone-who-loves-you-enough-to-help-you-unpack

Call today to schedule and appointment with Jeff at 801.272.3420

Doing the Laundry

Doing the Laundry

By Jeremy Bailey, LAMFT

I don’t know about you, but laundry has always been an interesting dilemma for my family and me. Growing up in a family of 12 we had a bag and crate system to help get the clothes to the washroom and then back to our closets. My mom’s biggest chore in our home was to wash the laundry. Besides the bags and crates we also had the famous “sock bucket” where all the socks ended up needing to be sorted or left partnerless . . . probably to this day.

Now, with my family of five, we oftentimes deal with the laundry couch where all the clean clothes wait to be folded. I have learned that it is easy to have the washer and dryer do their job but sometimes finding the time to fold and store is a personal challenge. Many times, we have to run the clothes to the bedroom or even put them back in the dryer if guests are coming over—until we can better deal with them.

You are probably wondering why I am talking about laundry on a therapy blog or why I am sharing about my struggle with laundry. The reason is because I think our feelings are very similar laundry. See, everyone has laundry and as humans we also have feelings. In fact, we have a lot of feelings.

Just like laundry—we have our darks, whites, colors, and delicates. And just like laundry, we all have to constantly do something with them. This can be tricky, especially when dealing with gentle fabrics, hard stains, or even when too many have piled up, and it becomes overwhelming to where we have to take our laundry to a dry cleaner. As a therapist, I have noticed that learning to do emotional laundry is an essential skill for individuals and families.

Take a moment and think about how you learned to do your emotional laundry. I fear that in a lot of homes we treat our feelings and emotions like laundry. In many families, mom takes care of the laundry for everyone—separating, washing, drying, sorting, folding, and storing which is quite the task. That has to be exhausting. Think about your current family—who does the emotional laundry in your home? Do you and your partner work together? Is this a task that you discuss or does one partner always feel burdened with this important detail? It is my belief that a strong and healthy practice is that everyone learn to be responsible for doing their own wash while also pitching in to help the entire family get through laundry day.

As parents, we have the awesome responsibility and opportunity to help our children learn to sort through their feelings and deal with them on a regular basis so they don’t become overwhelming. Oftentimes the 2 hardest tasks for anyone to learn are to identify different feelings and know where they belong. It is important that we treat delicate feelings different than others and understand that the process of dealing with them is special and important. Helping children name strong and vulnerable feelings helps them to normalize their experience and know that they are not alone. It also gives them permission to accept their feelings and parents the opportunity to let them know how they can best deal with some strong emotions.

As intimate partners we have the great opportunity to “lighten each other’s load”. Although each partner should ultimately be responsible for their own feelings we also depend on each other to take care of and care for each other’s emotional needs. Part of being a human is to experience a wide range of feelings and emotions during different times in our life. The best part of being in an intimate relationship is that we get to have help during those times. Sometimes all we need to know is that we have a helping hand when folding an endless pile of mismatched socks.

strengthening-your-marriage

Take the chance today to help your family with their daily laundry. Maybe you validate your child’s softer feelings today or you take some extra time noticing the wrinkles and the stains on your partner’s favorite shirt. Maybe you just notice the beautiful threads and textures of all the different feelings and emotions we get to experience and just accept them as part of our great human experience without defining them as good or bad, right or wrong, but just different and unique. Try to not let your emotional laundry pile up and become unbearable. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or guidance when it does appear to be too much, that is what family, friends, and therapists are for after all.

Call today to schedule and appointment with Jeremy at 801.272.3420

What WE want to be

By Christopher D. Adams, AMFT

Max De Pree an American Business man who died in August of 2017 was known to have said,

“We cannot become who we want to be by remaining what we are.”

Stronger Family relationships Becoming is a process of forward progression. Often times however, couples define their relationship by the hurts of the past (but she said… or how could he if…). Those hurts DO matter and they need to be validated and understood so as to not allow them to be repeated in the future and yet they need not define the marriage. When couples begin to use statements like, we are it interrupts the ability to become something better.

Couples are only limited by what they believe they can become together. That belief may need some tender persuasion, as it may have been lost in the quagmire of hurt and mistrust. In some instances one partner bears, seemingly alone, the hopes of something better. Don’t walk alone. Let us walk with you until you and your partner can lift together and choose what the marriage will become.

When we believe in what we can become, we change who we have been and together, we define what we will be.

Christopher D. Adams

Call today to schedule and appointment with Chris at 801.272.3420

Premarital Couples Counseling – Is that really a thing???

by Kayla Burningham, AMFT

Premarital Couples Counseling — Is that really a thing???

Marriage is the biggest decision a person will make in life. We all enter  marriage with high hopes that the relationship will be fulfilling, rewarding, and long lasting. Additionally, we hope the marriage will be of benefit to future children—protecting them from mental, physical, emotional, educational, and social problems. However, despite the best intentions, according to the American Psychological Association a whopping 40-50% of marriages end in divorce, severely impacting all parties involved, especially children. What if there was a way to help prevent becoming included in this grim statistic?

Premarital couples counseling is quickly becoming a popular new trend—and according to research it is proving to be effective. One particular study published in the Journal of Family Psychology found that premarital education decreased the odds of divorce by 31%!!! Additionally, couples in the study reported higher marital satisfaction, less destructive conflicts, and more commitment to their partner. Another study published in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, the most renown journal in the field of marital and family therapy, found that premarital couples counseling helped increased confidence in their ability to discuss important topics and helped clients better understand their partner. Who wouldn’t want those dynamics in their marriage? Premarital couples counseling is a great tool to prevent divorce and increase a stable foundation in the relationship.

Premarital couples counseling can be brief, comprising of approximately 10 sessions or less. First, the therapist will work with the clients to conduct a relationship assessment—identifying strengths and weaknesses in the relationship. Following the assessment the therapist will then work with the couple to set goals to help overcome challenges. Then the therapist will teach the clients skills that will help them establish a solid foundation in their relationship. These skills can include:

  • Learning to communicate more effectively.
  • Avoiding toxic resentments.
  • Setting realistic expectations.
  • Conflict resolution techniques.

Premarital couples counseling is one of the best investments a couple can make for their marriage. At Connections Counseling Services, our licensed therapists are skilled in helping couples prepare for challenges in their relationship, thereby decreasing the likelihood of divorce and increasing marital satisfaction. Enter your marriage prepared and confident by giving your relationship the gift of premarital couples counseling.

References:

American Psychological Association

Larson, J. H., Vatter, R. S., Galbraith, R. C., Holman, T. B., & Stahmann, R. F. (2007). The RELATionship Evaluation (RELATE) With Therapist-Assisted Interpretation: Short-Term Effects on Premarital Relationships. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 33(3), 364–374.

The Mayo Clinic

Naylor, S. (2014). Everything you need to know about premarital counseling. The Huffington Post.

Stanley, S. M., Amato, P. R., Johnson, C. A., & Markman, H. J. (2006). Premarital education, marital quality, and marital stability: Findings from a large, random household survey. Journal of Family Psychology, 20(1), 117–126.