healthy marriages Posts

Spice Up Your Relationship

I love September. Maybe it is a leftover from having kids going back to school but it seems to me it is like New Years. A time of opportunity and change. I get re-enthused about my blogging and want to start some new courses for the fall and develop new programs to help you. One of the coming programs is an on line course based on John Gottman’s research and his book called ‘Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work’ that I am currently putting together. More to come on that. This morning it was foggy for the first time, a sure sign of fall where I live. It adds a bit of mystery to the morning world and I was thinking how fun that was. Variety is important to us as humans and keeps our brain healthy. I wondered what newness, mystery or opportunity you can facilitate in your relationship and your life for this season? Sit down together and pull out the calendar. Without this step it is not likely to happen. Brainstorm some possibities that you might like to do together this fall. Perhaps you can go away for the weekend or join a class together. You are really only limited by your brainstorming so go for it! Use the momentum of the natural change in the season to spice up your relationship and tune up the connection between you! Do something different and add some health and mystery to your relationship. Mark it in the calendar! Go forth and be wonderful!

3 Ways to Combat The Dangers of Technology to Relationships

Let’s face it. Technology has crept up on us rapidly and changed the face of our relationships with each other in just a few short years. Of course, it has its positives and I would not want to do without my computer, ipad and iphone. However, it is not just kids who have challenges in balancing technology, adults too have their challenges with technology, particularly in the area of relationships.

You may notice that you are increasingly unwilling to let a text sit without responding to it no matter what is happening in your family. There is certainly research evidence building that social media involvement builds discontent. Certainly, when couples each spend what used to be time together and now becomes time away on their computer device, distance is created, even without intention. When texting with your partner, especially if you try to discuss a pressing issue, the danger of miscommunication is an everyday difficulty. The building of couple resilience, attachment and connection takes time daily and it is difficult enough to come by that time without the insistent call of technology. So what are some things you might do about this that will help you to build fences around your relationship in regards to the influence of internet technology.

  1.  Set aside a time for yourself and assess your own life and the balance of technology. Ask yourself questions about time and how you are spending it. Does the amount of tech time align with your values? If you spent less time on the internet, what would you want to do with that time? What do you need to change personally?
  2.  Sit down together as a couple and hear each other regarding where you think the boundaries need to be around technology and the current irritations you feel around each other’s use of technology. Each couple relationship will have different needs in this regard. Come to this table discussion with an open mind and heart, willing to come together, taking both of your needs into account. Get agreement on what changes you want to institute and then support one another in that.
  3. Assess what has  been lost by your use of technology. For example, have you lost touch with a good friend who does not text or a family member, such as a great grandmother who does not text? What about your children? I often see mom’s texting while walking their child, where in other times there would be lots of communication with the child on a walk. These are just a couple of examples of loss that creeps up on us. When you become aware of this, you may want to commit some of your tech time to other forms of communication that leads to a re-connection of these losses that you may still value.

Some things that other couples have tried and found helpful are to have no tech times such as meal times together. Also having a place in the house where everyone drops their devices when it is a family or couple time or time for shutting down for the day can be an important habit.

The rapidity of change in technology makes it important for you, your relationship and your family  to  do this reassessment every 3 months or so in order to live your life according to your personal values and meaning. Go forth and be wonderful in this!




Date Nights in Marriage

This is one of the most important things a couple can do to create a healthy relationship. No, it doesn’t count when you take your children or have a couples night out. This is a time to renew and create  your coupleship, your friendship. Marriages are not a fairy tale where the prince kisses the princes and they live happily ever after. Especially in our day and age. They take some time and effort. It is hard to balance our lives with work and kids and health and all the rest of what we might do, but signing on for marriage means that it takes a top priority. When each of you hold the relationship in top priority it helps to build and sustain the trust in your relationship, which in turn keeps the foundation of your relationship firm. Make this a sacred marriage tradition. Go forth and be wonderful in this!

Healthy Relationship Stories

When you are telling yourself the story of your relationship, what parts do you pick out? When I am listening to couples who are mostly well but are coming to counselling in order to get through a certain issue in their lives in this moment, their stories are positive and filled with life. For couples who are basically not doing well, their stories are filled with negativity. Yet when examined, their actual life stories can be quite similar, with the usual ups and downs of a long term committed relationship.  It is mostly what parts of their story that they are focussing on.The cost of reviewing your relationship in a never ending loop of negativity stretching back years is that you increase your own personal pain as well as your partners. Find something positive to focus on today – it will have great rewards physically, emotionally and relationally! Go forth and be wonderful!


Posted by Lynda in Healthier Marriages and tagged with ,

Summer Fun

Take advantage of summer fun and let it restore your marriage. Plan for relaxing the usual routine in the house and let yourself relax into the warmth and play of summer days. If you are working through the summer, come home and change into play clothes immediately. Changing clothes helps to transition into a different space psychologically. Eat out on your patio or grass, spend time in nature. Being present to what you are doing is so important to your restoration. Leave your stress and worries, leave the past and focus on the present beauty of today. Focus on being together, the love you share and find gratitude for each other and your relationship life together. Go forth and be wonderful today.

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Marriage Traditions

As we come to July 1st in Canada and July 4th in the US we are reminded of the importance of traditions. In many families today, traditions are a things of the past. You may have fond memories of your childhood history, “remember when we…” but have had difficulty in doing that in your own generation with your own family. Of course, remarriage can be a block to this as many other things in our culture at this time can be. However, research would say that building experiences and fond memories in your relationship, both as a couple and as a family is an important part of living in a healthy way. It is never too late to start a tradition and the coming holiday weekend might provide a way for you to begin soon.Go forth and be wonderful!

Posted by Lynda in Healthier Marriages and tagged with ,

Relationship Power in Healthy Marriages

Balancing the power and voice in relationships is not necessarily easy. There are personality differences in using our voice. Also feeling powerless in one area of life can make one want to compensate for this sense of powerlessness in their intimate relationship. An unbalanced relationship eventually leads to unhappiness in the relationship. It is one of the complaints that I hear often when at least one partner has their foot out the door of the relationship. One of the ways to change the imbalance once you have recognized it, is to notice how you look at your partner. Is there an element of power struggle between you that has you speaking to each other in a win/lose way? Changing your vision of your partner to someone who you respect and has an equal and different offering in the relationship is your first step. Once your vision has changed, then look at how you speak to your partner and how you listen to your partner. Is that language and hearing one of an equal partner? All of us have experienced the pain of being in a relationship with a loved one where you cannot be heard. It automatically creates distance even when you would not want that to happen. Stay in the present moment and in this relationship when relating to your partner. Make sure your needs are each being heard and attended to. Your best solutions are those that take into account the relationship needs as well as each partner’s need. A great partner really wants to have his/her partner to experience a healthy sense of self in the relationship as well as developing their own sense of self in the relationship. Go forth and be wonderful in your relationship today!

Posted by Lynda in Healthier Marriages and tagged with ,

Remarriage Challenges

I was a part of a huge study as a researcher at the University of British Columbia on Blended FamiliesStep. Remarriages have the challenges of a first marriage as well as added complications. For instance, another set of adults who may be quite conflicted as well as the scheduling and relationship issues of children going back and forth. During certain periods of time in the life of the kids and the second relationship, there is a great deal of stress and it takes a very deliberate effort on the part of a couples to make it all work. You don’t have to be a statistic but don’t take the statistic lightly that reports that second marriages have a poorer chance of staying together. Making a healthy relationship your top priority and focussing a part of your time and effort on your relationship is what it takes. Having some respite by having the kids looked after by others for some weekend getaway time is really necessary for rejuvenating the relationship and cementing your attachment again. Whatever it takes in trading kids or asking relatives is worth it. You can do this. Go forth and be wonderful!

Life Changes in Couple Relationships

I have been doing some changing of my business and while I have been doing that – I have been thinking about the challenges of change. If you are like me, change is a lovely challenge. I embrace it with excitement, interest and intrigue. The difficulty for me is that my mind goes so quickly to that terrific place in my where there are so many great possibilities and ideas that I can get stalled there. Deciding on a definitive change and then following through would be more of my challenge. I usually have to make a mind map and then I have found that I really need to limit myself to 3 goals for the week in order to get out of the dreaming stage and into the doing stage.

I know from our relationship together in the counselling room that change is not at all like that for all of you. For some of you, change is threatening and something to be resisted. All kinds of fears come up. What if I can’t do what I have proposed for myself or my partner?  I have tried to change before and did not follow through, disappointing myself and others. Or perhaps the comfort of your current dysfunction, painful as it is, is better then the unknown of change. Or you are stuck in not wanting to change unless your partner changes. And so the time rolls by, the suffering continues and the isolation in the relationship continues with the ideal of a healthy marriage becoming a distant dream.

If this is where you are at, I invite you to consider that change is actually for your benefit personally. Your relationship is the gift that you get to bump up against yourself and your need to change, where your interactions together surfaces some grit in your oyster. Whether your partner changes or does not, is irrelevant to our own need for change. Consider embracing the changes you are being invited to, turn that grit into a very fine pearl. As usual, go forth and be wonderful and love like you actually mean it!

Lynda Chalmers

Empty Nest Looming

It is typical for me to see at least one part of a couple (most often the woman) in counselling when the children are grown and about to leave home. If she is coming to see me, she most often feels a sense of restlessness and often the long term committed relationship has lost its element of friendship and connection. The day to day of the kids, their activities and their care has taken a toll on the relationship. There may be an affair that has been discovered. There is often a sense of not fulfilling their life purpose. If this describes you and your relationship, it is definitely time to make some changes, BEFORE the affair. If possible, go away with your partner for a weekend and have the purpose of taking stock of your coupleship. Envision a future together that focusses on life-giving goals and events. Perhaps you will decide to go somewhere and contribute to building houses for others who are less fortunate, as my friend does each year. Perhaps you will experience another country in an exchange program, perhaps going on a sabbatical from work, learning another language and culture. Take responsibility for your own malaise without blaming the relationship. Make your own changes as well as working at adding life to the relationship itself to resolve this transition of life.

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