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Overcoming Addiction Together -“I Won’t Give Up” Part 2

Julie Hanks, Owner and Executive Director of Wasatch Family Therapy shared with me this artistic expression and interpretation of overcoming addiction to the song “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz.  When I saw it I was so powerfully moved by the message it portrayed on such an important topic.  A few points stood out to me from watching this dance that relate well to the emotional aspect of dealing with addiction in relationships.

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“I Won’t Give Up On You” – The Importance of Commitment


(c) Can Stock Photo

The popular song by Jason Mraz, “I Won’t Give Up” shares an important message of commitment in relationships and the powerful effect it can have.  How important is commitment in a relationship?  Researcher Steinberg created a model for what makes up love and relationships.  He states that relationships thrive when they have a good balance of passion (physical), intimacy (emotional), and commitment.  Why is commitment so important?  It is hard to fully jump into the passionate and intimate part of a relationship when you do not know if this person is going to be with you or will stand by your side.  When there is a sense of commitment there is a freedom to explore the relationship and continue to give more of yourself because you are not consumed by fear of being hurt or abandoned.

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Could You Benefit From A Marital Checkup?

A recent article associated with Good Morning America focused on the benefits of couples coming in for marital checkups.  Psychologist James Cordova, an associate professor of psychology at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts found that those couples who went through marital checkups had higher marital satisfaction than those who did not.  But the real question is who really needs a marital checkup?  Is there a list of qualifications or symptoms like those found on WebMD?

Stethoscope
Creative Commons License photo credit: tjmwatson

While some would like to say yes and give you a list of items like bad communication, sexual issues, disagreements with parenting, etc. (which are all good reasons to come in to therapy), the true indicator that you could benefit from a marital check up is yourself.  Yes, yourself.  How do you feel in and about the relationship and how do you feel about the direction your relationship is heading?  Marital checkups can enhance areas of the relationship that need to be improved.

I see a marital checkup similar to going to the dentist.  Anyone would go to the dentist if they were in pain, yet on the other hand, people also go to the dentist to have checkups. They do this so if there is a possible problem coming they can prevent it from occurring. This may take the form of better dental hygiene like learning to floss a little better, or brush in a different way.   This is analogous to marriage therapy.  Those who are in pain can find relief, but a marital checkup can also help guard against what could create pain in the future if not addressed now.

Sometimes in our own marriages it is easy to see where we can improve, but oftentimes it is difficult.  A marital checkup can provide further direction to improve areas of the relationship that could be struggling, and in turn make a huge difference in the relationship as a whole.

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How Can I Feel More Gratitude For My Spouse?

Positive psychology is powerful!  In the spirit of Thanksgiving, and the good reminder we have to be grateful this time of year, I want to share a tip I have seen improve many couple relationships I have worked with, and my own marriage. 

We have all heard that an attitude of gratitude benefits us, but what if we specify that focus to our spouse?   Anyone who has kept a gratitude journal knows the influential effect it can have on how you see life, challenges or others.  I have morphed this idea to specifically focus on the couple relationship.

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The Key to Expectations in Relationships

We constantly hear how important expectations are in relationships.  However, many expectations in relationships are not discovered until they are NOT met by your partner.  When this happens suddenly expectations become a big deal and have the potential to become a wedge in any relationship.

It can be difficult to acknowledge, monitor and understand some expectations you may have, because they are developed and picked up throughout life.  We can unintentionally create expectations as a result of watching our parents’ behavior with each other.  Or, expectations can be created from experiences in past relationships.  Finally, media has a strong influence on expectations, as well as, what we are told by others (friends and family).

For example, you may have the expectation that your spouse will immediately come to you and try to work out a disagreement because you saw this behavior in your own parents.  If you become involved with a person who does not do this, but withdraws for a few minutes to calm down after a disagreement, your expectation could be unfulfilled and it could leave you feeling like your relationship has some major flaw.

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Infatuation…Makes Your Brain Act Like A Crack Addict!

Oh the joys of infatuation.  Did you know if you take an MRI of a brain during infatuation and compare that to the MRI of a crack addict they would look almost identical?  I have seen it myself.  However infatuation can be a good drug, that is if you don’t become too addicted to it.

Infatuation is an altered state of consciousness meaning you usually say and do things in that state that you would not usually do.  Infatuation floods the brain with ‘feel goods’ like dopamine.  It is a natural drug in many ways and it has a purpose!  Infatuation gets us to meet, mate and procreate!  This semi-drug allows us to focus on one partner, as well as, see the positives and eliminate, or conveniently not notice the negatives.  Lastly, it helps us get into relationships and keeps us there long enough to develop a deeper connection.

So what are the signs of infatuation (any of these sound like a drug to you?):

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Communication in Relationships (part 1)

“Communication” a word that is usually packed with meaning for any significant relationship.  A lack of communication, or communication skills is one of the primary reasons couples and families claim relationships struggle.  Although often times it is not just a lack of communicating that creates frustration.  More often than not, especially in couple relationships, we do not know what type of conversation we are having with a significant other.  When you do not know what type of conversation you are having there is more room for hurt feelings and miscommunication.

For example, there are two primary types of conversations: one, the expressive conversation and two, the problem solving conversation.  Now to be a little gender stereotypical the first one (expressive) is primarily a female way of conversing and the second (problem solving) is generally a male’s type of conversing.  Now don’t be too frustrated by this claim, we are socialized in many ways to be this way.

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Mean Girls Get Married: KSL 5 News

What happens when so-called “mean girls” grow up? As Marriage and Family Therapist Chelsea Madsen, tells us, that manipulative behavior may continue into adult relationships on KSL Morning News.

There was such an amazing response to Chelsea’s segment on the morning news that they came to our clinic and interviewed her for the 5:00PM news yesterday. Here’s that clip!

Read more about Chelsea’s research on relational aggression and mean girls in marriage by clicking the links below:

Mean Girls in Marriage on KSL 5 NewsChelsea Madsen, MS, AMFT

Read Chelsea’s article The Mean Girls Phenomenon in Marriage

 

 

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Battered Men: A Different Perspective

Distaste for Photography
Check out a national blogtalkradio interview I did on “wellness for the real world with Dr. Veronica Anderson”.  This interview included several contributors from academicians, authors, family lawyers, therapists and male victims.  We discuss the change in popular belief about violence and the increased awareness of males who are victims of violence.  This was done in a way that does not diminish the seriousness of female victims, but increases the understanding and experiences of male victims.  My specific segment focused primarily on types of violence and the more recent finding that situational couple violence (where both partners are violent with each other) leads to more injury than violence where there is only one perpetrator.  The whole segment can be found here or listen to the interview by clicking the arrow below.

Creative Commons License photo credit: M. Pratter

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Do Opposites Attract?: NBC Action News

Do opposites attract?  This story was the result of an interview I did in Kansas that was featured on NBC Action News.

When it comes to love, it might not be best for Capulets and Montagues to mingle and marry.

That’s because while opposites can attract, they may not be best for each other, according to Chelsea Madsen, a Kansas State University instructor of family studies and human services and a licensed marriage and family therapist. People are typically attracted to someone who loves what they love, she said.

To read the rest of the story click below:

Do Opposites Attract?

 

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