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

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

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

Fix it by Listening

listening and marriage counseling

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

marriage counseling benefits

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

marriage counseling can repair

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

Being at Home in Relationship: Taking Care of Your Side of the House

establish home via couple therapy

Intimate relationships are like a house. When partners are able to create a supportive and secure environment, they can love and be loved for being as they are – perfectly imperfect. We can call this home. Home provides the opportunity for intimacy to grow, as deep intimacy can only grow when partners feel supported and secure. In order to establish home, both partners need to tend to their part of the house – their responsibility in developing trust. How do they do this? One way is to lead with vulnerability. For example, instead of saying, “You are never here with… Continue Reading This Article

Turning Your Relational House into a Home: Having Tools in Your Tool Belt

making a home

Transcript from a Facebook Live video: Danny: Hello, good morning everybody. My name is Danny Colella I’m a Facebook Live marketing expert, coach and consultant today, we’re in Jason’s Page, say hi to everybody, Jason. Jason Polk: Hey, how’s it going? Danny: So you are … Jason Polk: I’m Jason Polk and I’m a guy who helps out with relationships. Danny: He’s a relationship expert, I’m gonna call him that because I’ve had an awesome moment to sit down with Jason and really get clear about what he does and how he helps people, and it became apparent that we… Continue Reading This Article

Sex: Connecting, Not Performing

sex and couple therapy

Like most human interactions, sex is complex. We tend to assign a great deal of meaning to it, and may face an array of sexual dysfunctions, not to mention differences in libido. At the same time, we often think it should be natural and easy, and here we get into trouble. In particular, we get into trouble when we put too much emphasis on performing and not enough on connecting. As humans, sex is linked to our identity. For males, we learn that we are supposed to be able to perform (get an erection) every time, while avoiding premature ejaculation…. Continue Reading This Article