Category Archives: Dating

Experiencing Positive Change in Your Relationships

Experiencing Positive Change in Your Relationships

As a marriage and family therapist, the biggest hurdle that I see individuals and couples face in realizing the goals for their relationships is that they keep doing what they have been doing, in spite of having learned a better way. So, as the Nike ad says, “Just do it.” Lasting change is experiential. Knowledge and good intentions are not enough.

If we are to have positive change in our lives and relationships, we need to experience that what we have learned is actually true. You have to experience something different to believe in something different.

As much as I want to emphasize the need for a different experience, I also know how difficult it can be to do things differently. It really helps to start small.

Most couples come in and they tell me they need to work on their communication. Truthfully, they can communicate just fine. They each have the skills, but they are emotionally tied to one another. And when the emotions get stirred, the helpful communication skills they have go out the window. They no longer talk to one another as friends who don’t see eye-to-eye. They become bitter adversaries and it can get ugly.

Couples have a lot of choices for doing things differently when it comes to their disagreements. Before they step foot in the therapy room, they generally have awareness that there are better ways to disagree.

Cognitive knowledge isn’t very useful when emotions take over. Our rational brain goes offline and our body goes into fight or flight.

Just doing it differently becomes really difficult. So how can a couple take a baby step towards a new experience?

  • When you learn new information, intentional ask yourself “what is my take-away?” What do I feel is usable for me?  Imagine yourself using the new information to have a different interaction.
  • Focus on one thing that you really want to differently. Start small by focusing on just one thing that feels doable and like something that would make a difference in your relationship.
  • Practice, practice, practice… when things are calm. If you are going to try to break some unhealthy patterns, you’re are going to need access to your rational brain.   You are much more likely to have a new positive experience if you try doing things differently when the relationship is in a settled state.
  • Give your relationship some grace. If you change, you will create change in your relationship.  But change feels different – whether it’s good or bad.  So give yourself and your partner some time to adjust.

Jackie Dunagan, LAMFT
jdunagan@growcounseling.com

Ignite Your Passion this Valentine’s Day with a Sex Talk

Ignite Your Passion this Valentine’s Day with a Sex Talk

It’s never a bad thing to have a sex talk with your partner, but it does require a thoughtful approach to ignite the passion in your relationship. Passion is what most couples I work with want more of when they assess their sexual needs. They want powerful, compelling emotions with the desire to connect sexually…

Love at First Sight: How Perceptions Impact Love

Love at First Sight: How Perceptions Impact Love

The old adage, love at first sight, may be more scientific than we originally thought. Author Erik Van Alstine, Automatic Influence, has researched the idea of perceptions impacting love.  He argues that love is not a feeling first, it is first a perception. The feeling of love follows. What we see or perceive about a…

Couples Therapy: Experience Something New!

Couples Therapy: Experience Something New!

If couples are going to change, they are going to need more than knowledge about what they could do differently. They are going to need to risk doing things differently and have new, healing experiences. DH Lawrence wrote, The world fears a new experience more than it fears anything. Because a new experience displaces so…

Codependency and How to Care for Yourself

Codependency and How to Care for Yourself

Codependency can simply be described as helping others while harming yourself. Have you ever found yourself in a relationship where you felt as if you were going “crazy?” Have you ever found yourself excessively worried, preoccupied or even obsessed with your partner’s problems? Codependency involves reactions which are unhealthy forms of attachment in a relationship and may…

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