6 Principles for Secure Functioning Relationships

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The following list is adapted from my study with Stan Tatkin and from attachment research. A secure-functioning relationship allows us to be the best we are as individuals. It doesn’t mean we will be consumed by the relationship, or will lose our freedom and voice. Ironically, we will have more of those as trust (synonymous with secure-functioning) puts several relationship insecurities to ease. 1) The purpose of a serious relationship is not what you can extract or gain from it. It is about the safety, security, and mutuality you create with your partner. 2) Know your partner’s vulnerabilities, also know… Continue Reading This Article

Reconnecting with the Consequences of Anger

couple therapy to reconnect with consequences of anger

Sometimes a partner in a relationship will say, “I’m unable to control my anger.” On the surface this sounds reasonable enough, but if you really think about it, it’s an excuse – an excuse to separate you from the consequences of your behavior. However, in life and relationships, you are responsible for the consequences of your behavior. Author and thinker Terry Real points out that if you really couldn’t control your anger, you would be in jail or an institution. If that’s not the case, it means you can control and limit your reactionary instincts. Such control arises from the… Continue Reading This Article

What Makes a Healthy Relationship? Four Core Principles

healthy relationship principles

Core principle #1: It’s not about you A seemingly paradoxical relationship axiom is that the more you convey (through action and speech) that the relationship is your priority, the more autonomy you will likely have. Perhaps you fear — consciously or unconsciously — that you’re going to have to do everything your partner wants, that you will lose your voice and your autonomy. But in fact, if your partner intuits and trusts that the relationship is a priority, the less insecure and anxious they will be about you spending time away. Vice versa, no one likes to feel like a… Continue Reading This Article

PSA for Us Men

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Hey, what’s up everyone? Jason Polk here, relationship counselor and expert, coming to you with a quick PSA for men. So us men, we are great at providing. It is wired in us to be a provider. However, what I urge us to do is to be more than just a provider, to be emotionally available and to be interested in our partner’s life. And, so you know what happens when we don’t, when we don’t do these things? It’ll create resentments for our partner. And these resentments will come back to us in some manner, whether that our partner… Continue Reading This Article

Bringing I Feel Statements Back

relational harmony

Almost every communication curriculum I’ve read encourages us to to use statements that begin with “I feel…” It’s so often repeated that we might dismiss it as just something that therapists say to their clients — not something we actually do in real life. But like Justin Timberlake brought sexy back, I want to bring “I feel” statements back. Such statements are especially important if you are giving feedback to your partner (for example, “I feel that you’ve been spending too much time at work”). “I feel” statements give you freedom to say what you really feel and in a… Continue Reading This Article

Fix it by Listening

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Perhaps the most important ingredient for a harmonious relationship is active listening. However, some of us are prone to a reflex of “fixing it”– that is, when our partner is upset, we move into fix-it mode instead of simply listening. Frequently the best way to fix a problem is by listening to your partner and relaying that you’re doing so. An example: Rachel, Mike’s wife, came back from work and was upset that her boss was being mean again. Mike went into fix-it mode and promptly said, “Why don’t you set up an appointment with HR and tell them how… Continue Reading This Article

Before you Cheat, Read This

before you cheat read this

As a preface, I don’t believe humans are necessarily wired for monogamy. We have evolved to reproduce widely, and it’s natural enough to desire other sexual partners. With that said, however, if you are in a committed relationship and you have made it clear that you don’t go outside the marriage for sex, read this before you cheat. As a couples therapist, I have seen the pain of infidelity first-hand. The purpose of this article is to help you to avoid such pain. When you cheat and your partner finds out about it, it puts them in a tailspin. What… Continue Reading This Article

Attachment Primer

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This is a primer on attachment style. Attachment style is the basic relational state of mind to which we revert once the initial infatuation phase of the relationship is over. I want to discuss the basic fears and antidotes to those fears for two prominent attachment styles. On the left of the continuum we have what researchers have termed the avoidant style, or what in PACT we call an island. On the right we have the anxious-ambivalent style, or wave. How do you know where you are on the continuum? You may already have a sense, but this relationship quiz… Continue Reading This Article

Repairing Distress through Vulnerability

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One of the most important things for couples to be able to do is repair. If there was an incident or argument that caused one or both of you to be in distress, repair moves you back into harmony, or at least to a neutral state where you’re both calm and are no longer lobbing hurtful words or actions at each other. Repair is the place where you reconnect as lovers, or at least as partners. In order to repair and reconnect, we have to give something for our partner to connect to – and what we can’t connect to… Continue Reading This Article