Happy Couples Blog Post

We wanted to pass along a popular blog post in case you haven’t read it.  Maybe it will get the creative juices flowing in your unique relationship.  In 2009 Dr. Mark Goulston authored one of the most-read couples related blog posts on the widely popular “Psychology Today” website.  He titled it, “10 Habits of Happy Couples.”  It’s gone viral and continues to pop up around the web even 5 years later…

Click here to read 10 Habits of Happy Couples

So many couples hunger for happiness together.  We want that for you!  While marriage counseling is often thought of as just “fixing a problem,” couples specialists understand that it’s more about helping couples discover strengths and cultivate sustained happiness together.

Some of these “10” may seem cliche while others may seem impractical.  That’s ok.  Not all of them are going to fit for you.  However, we invite you to share them with each other and commit together to cultivating a few of these habits.  Or better yet, think up one or two of your own and enjoy the happiness it brings you!

Marriage Bonding Analogy

I want to pass along a wonderful email from one of our clients after their very first visit with us.  He wrote it himself and gave us permission to share it.  Marriage analogies are hit and miss but this one seems like a home run.  We shared it at staff meeting and I think many of our counselors are sharing it with their couples.  This comes from a man with basically 20 years in the construction industry.  I’m grateful for creative people like him who can help simplify broader concepts.  I hope it’s helpful for your marriage…

“Just a note of thanks to Mary today for our first session. It was nice to have an outsider’s view into our marriage, and I wanted to share something with you all that I wrote this morning just before heading out of DC for our appointment.
Take care and thanks so much for being here.”

Adam
_________

The Bonding Capacity of Humans

Intimacy and Love are qualitative forms of expression that have some interesting similarities to the bonding of adhesives. This may not be the most romantic way of discussing this topic, but as I have been in construction for 19 years now, I can’t help but notice the patterns.

When we don’t like something, but cannot get rid of it, we often say we are “stuck with it,” but if we want to stay with someone, the closeness that is represented by that statement also has a bond associated with it.

If you have ever tried to apply tape to a dirty surface, you know that the dirt sticks to the tape, and the tape becomes useless. If you don’t know how to prepare the surface for adhesion, you are wasting time, energy, and money.

In order for two people to “stick together,” both people need to be “bondable.” We have to want someone to be attached to us, and they must want someone attached to them. This is not a law that must be submitted to, but simply a process that needs to be understood.

Our “bond-ability” can change over time, and is most often heavily influenced by how we interact with each other. It’s not just a one-time event that defines our attachment to each other, nor can it be defined or maintained by a legal contract or any other means of authority.

On the contrary, the bonding capacity of humans is an ongoing, dynamic and iterative process where the results of prior interactions feed back into the bonding equations of the future, as they have a direct impact on how we allow others to stick to us and how much we want to stick to others.

 

Marriage Had To Change

Several of our couples have sent us the link to “The Third Metric,” a feature story from the The Huffington Post about 4 couples who are prioritizing well-being and fun ahead of wealth, status, and being constantly “on.”  It’s been a deliberate change in values that have transformed their marriages.  These stories have inspired so we wanted to pass them along to you.  In the go-go-go world of Northern Virginia it’s often the day-to-day stress and busyness that eats away at our marriages.  Hopefully this will inspire conversation between you and your partner about your shared vision for your marriage.

The Moment They Knew Their Marriage Had To Change

 

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Men’s Support Group

As a staff we’re always paying attention to the greatest needs of our couples.  We’re constantly evaluating what is working and what isn’t.  Are there other supports that are needed?  Lately one particular need continues to present itself…and our men are asking for it:

A men’s emotional intelligence support group

Men, especially husbands and fathers, face a lot of pressure around how their role as a man is changing in our progressing society.  Marital experts who devote their entire lives to this field believe that the emergence of the emotionally intelligent husband is the next social evolutionary step for our culture.  Most homes with the “old-school authoritarian” husband/father simply don’t work well in this day and age and experience the highest level of unhappiness and dissatisfaction.

We’re laying the groundwork this summer and plan to begin this men’s emotional intelligence support group sometime in the fall.  Check out this link for more information:

Men’s Emotional Intelligence Support Group – Fairfax, VA Location

 

 

Communication 101 Coaching!

Well Marriage Center is launching a new marital wellness program!

Our Communication 101 Coaching program actually emerged from a powerful statement and moment during one of our Communication 101 Classes.  A husband looked at his wife, and simply said, “I understand what you’re feeling.  I just wasn’t able to hear you…I couldn’t understand what you were experiencing and how you were feeling about this.”  He then proceed to say back to her, from his perspective, how he understood.  And he nailed it!  Let me tell you, it was a very emotional moment for him and his wife.

Communication is about so much more than simply talking to each other.  It’s about connection, intimacy, a deep understanding and knowing of the other.  This is what can be dimmed through arguments and conflicts…but it’s also the thing that can revive you and your relationship more quickly than you can imagine.

The Well Marriage Center Communication 101 program is designed to be a one time, 2 hour communication coaching consultation with our communication specialist Mary Baker, LPC.  It’s tailored to your specific relationship.  We use your struggles and strengths.  We watch video clips, role-play scenarios (good and bad), learn and practice skills, and become aware of our own communication strengths and growing edges.  It’s you (and your partner) one-on-one with Mary Baker.

This marital wellness program is appropriate for most couples.  Contact us today for more information or to schedule a consultation!

Communication 101 Coaching logistics: 
$295 per couples
2 hour duration
Fairfax location ONLY
Designed as a one-time consultation…additional consultations at counselor’s discretion
Facilitated by Licensed Professional Counselor who works exclusively with couples

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Happy New Year (Hope)

Just twelve days ago we posted about the end of the world…and the apocalypse indicators of our marriages.  It was a longer posting than we normally write (just in case the world did end).  We’ll keep it shorter this time.  We know the Holidays can be rough when your marriage or relationship is in distress.  We’re here to help.  The New Year is upon us, a time most noted for being able to start fresh or begin anew.  Sometimes our relationships need just that.  If your “hope” for your relationship in this new year is healing old wounds, renewing your friendship, growing your intimacy, stopping the fighting and bickering, and/or deepening your connection with each other – we hope you’ll give us a call and schedule an appointment.  We’re incredibly grateful for the hundreds of couples who sought our help during the 2012 year and look forward to walking with and assisting even more couples this coming year!

Predicting Divorce

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Predicting Divorce)

With the end of the world upon us tomorrow, I thought it would be a fitting time to address the difficult reality of divorce – particularly what indicators in a relationship are most likely to lead to its end.

Are there warning signs you can pay attention to that may prevent the end of your marriage?   

Dr. John Gottman is one of the leading marriage researchers and a top authority in the marriage counseling world.  We have the utmost respect for Dr. Gottman and all of our marriage counselors are required to complete Gottman Level 1 and Level 2 trainings…at a minimum.  Dr. Gottman reports that he can predict with 96% accuracy within the first few minutes of a couple having a conversation whether the relationship he is watching will survive over the long-haul or not.  He bases his prediction on four elements, which he calls the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse.  These lethal horseman “clip-clop into the heart of a marriage in the following order: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, stonewalling.”  I’m going to explain these four elements below because they are indeed incredibly toxic to the long-term success of your relationship.

BUT, all hope is not lost if one or more describe you.  We work with couples all the time who have one or more of these “horseman” present in their relationship.  I’ve seen too many of these couples do the hard work of stopping these horsemen in their tracks, survive, and go on to thrive in their relationship.  We think the important distinction is this: the continuation of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is what dooms a marriage, not just their presence.

So, the good news is: tomorrow is not actually the end of the world.  And tomorrow doesn’t have to be the end of your marriage.  But many couples do wait until these horsemen are firmly entrenched.  If any of the four below describe you, contact the relationship specialists at Well Marriage Center immediately.  We’re trained and experienced to help your marriage grow and thrive…for the long term!

Dr. John Gottman’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalpyse:

1)      Criticism: This is different than having a complaint about our partner or offering a critique, which are normal in a long-term relationship.  No, what he’s referring is how we communicate our complaints to our partners.  Criticism is “a way of fueling an attack, so you state your complaint as an attack on the other person.  It’s not constructive and it ends up escalating the conflict.”  It’s when we complain by way of attacking our partner at their very core.

Example:  “You haven’t asked me about how my day and how my big meeting went” is a complaint.  A criticism on the other hand is more general and blaming, “You always talk about yourself and never think about me.  You’re so selfish.”

2)      Contempt: Dr. Gottman considers this perhaps the best indicator of divorce, because it quickly reveals the “respect” value of a relationship.  This element contains a deadly air of superiority in which we are mean, often treating our partner with disrespect by using sarcasm, name-calling, ridicule, eye-rolling, etc.  Our partner feels despised and worthless.  Dr. Gottman says contempt is absolutely deadly and must be eliminated.

Example:  “You really are a self-centered jerk.  You just do whatever you want without regard for anyone else.  You’re the sorriest excuse for a wife or husband I can think of.”

3)      Defensiveness:  This is a particularly easy element to allow into our relationships.  If we feel accused, our natural inclination is to defend ourselves, to offer an excuse, or to shift blame back to the other person.  But the danger in defensiveness is that it communicates we don’t hear our partner’s complaint.  By being defensive and deflecting, we are ignoring our partner.  Dr. Gottman calls this defensiveness “self-protection in the form of righteous indignation or innocent victim-hood.”

Example:  “It’s not my fault I didn’t call you, I wasn’t near a phone.”

4)      Stonewalling: When a partner gets too tired or is afraid of confronting issues, he or she will just withdraw.  Emotionally, physically, mentally.  Also known as the silent treatment.  During an argument this can translate as stony silence, meaning the partner doesn’t engage or ignores her partner – which often escalates the fight.  Stonewalling involves turning away from our partner.

Example: The listener does not give the speaker the usual nonverbal signals that the listener is “tracking” the speaker.

Longest Married Couple

“Honey, I still love you”

The honoring of one’s life is a sacred ritual, a celebration of legacy and achievement and a life well lived.  We at Well Marriage Center tip our hats and acknowledge/celebrate the life of Theresa Faiss, who passed away this week at the age of 97.  Theresa, along with her husband Wilbur (former Senator of Nevada), were honored as the longest married couple earlier this year by the Worldwide Marriage Encounter.  2012 marked the couples 79th year of marriage!  What an achievement! 79 years – that’s a lifetime for many people!

In an earlier interview, Wilbur Faiss told the Review-Journal that the key to success in politics or in marriage is “compromise.”  “Every day I ask her how she feels and, ‘Is there anything I can do for you?’ And say, ‘Honey, I still love you.'”

We at Well Marriage Center recognize the incredible power that, “Honey, I still love you,” has in sustaining and deepening our most precious relationship.  Let Theresa and Wilbur’s incredible commitment motivate us to appreciate, affirm, and admire our spouse this weekend!  “Honey, I still love you.”  We encourage couples to care for and nurture their marriages!  Anyone want to set a goal of 79 years?  What about 80! 🙂

Read about their marriage HERE

Well Marriage Center offers specialized marriage counseling for the Northern VA community and the greater DC area.  We encourage couples to care for and nurture their marriage relationships.  We support your efforts to grow and thrive…together!

Check out our strengths-based, positive APPROACH 

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Communication 101

Yes, it might be a bit cliche to emphasize healthy communication for a healthy marriage, but that doesn’t make it wrong.  It just means you aren’t alone if you’re struggling with it.  Every marriage struggles with communication at times, and EVERY marriage could benefit from a communication program/workshop that helped them deepen their connection with each other and deepen their understanding of themselves individually.

So, introducing…

Communication 101: Connect. Thrive. Together!

This featured Marital Wellness Programs open to ALL couples is an experiential Communication 101 workshop.  Read below about what makes our program different from other communication education seminars and why every marriage should consider investing in these 3 incredible hours…

(NEXT OFFERING: SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 3RD: 9:00am – NOON)

– It’s more “experiential” than just simply educational
Yes, you’re going to learn about communication and how communication is really all about connection.  But we believe couples learn better when they can actually get into it and make it real for their unique relationship – rather than just listening to someone teach it generically from the front of a classroom or seminar room.  We’ve designed this program to be interactive, to be a lot of fun, to be skills-based, and to give you something concrete for your specific relationship when you walk out the door.

– We limit our workshop to a maximum of 4 couples
This allows us to personalize and tailor our time together.  In addition to being an interactive time of learning and fun – we want you to feel like this was helpful for where you are in your unique relationship.  Our trained facilitator and Licensed Professional Counselor will be able to flex and adapt for the couples who are present.

– Stronger connection with spouse and self
At the heart of communication is connection – and almost every marriage is seeking deeper connection with each other.  We want you to be connected to each other at the deepest level possible.  And it’s not just being connected with each other, but also connected with yourself – identifying where you are and how you grow and improve.

For more information or to RSVP, please call Mary Baker, LPC at (240) 350-8696 or send us a request for more information

Other Details:
$150 per couple
Open and appropriate for all couples
3 hours on a Saturday morning
Facilitated by Licensed Professional Counselor who works exclusively with couples
Limited Space – call or send a request today!

 

Take Back Your Marriage!

We at Well Marriage Center are unabashed fans of Dr. William (Bill) Doherty. His book, Take Back Your Marriage: Sticking Together in a World that Pulls us Apart, is often something we recommend to young couples just starting out on the marriage journey. But over the past several years, we’ve been recommending this book to every couple currently engaged, in marriage, or in a marriage-type relationship.

We all need this book!  Here’s why:

We know the statistics, and yes, they are grim. 1 in 4 currently married couples are likely to divorce. The rate jumps to 40%-50% when projecting the divorce rate for newly married couples – the highest in human history. We clearly have a problem.

But, research and polls indicate an overwhelming majority (most of us) still want and desire a permanent marital commitment someday. Our deepest longing is for stable, intimate bonds.

It’s just that we’re scared… and for good reason. We see the statistics, we see our parents, our friends, our family – and we question whether or not the ideal of marriage is possible in today’s world.

It is possible! But we must wake up to a new marriage reality. Dr. Doherty:

  • Our marriages can’t be the marriages of our parents and grandparents. Too much has changed than ever before in human history – we now aspire to greater equality between men and women and higher levels of emotional intimacy in marriage
  • Modern marriages require more mindfulness than marriages of the past. We expect more from marriage, but we have not yet woken up to that fact.
  • Success in marriage today requires two ingredients that no previous generation has ever had to put together: powerful commitment combined with an intentional focus on maintaining and growing one’s marriage.

Our problem is not a lack of love or noble intentions. It’s that we don’t know what we’re up against in contemporary marriage – we don’t have a strategy to care for and nurture our marriage or take it back when we start to lose it.

Well Marriage Center is here to help you. We’re trained exclusively and work exclusively with and for couples. We understand the dynamics, challenges, and problems your modern marriage faces – and we’re here to help you find and plan a strategy that allows to you Take Back Your Marriage. We believe most every couple can grow and thrive…together!

Click here to learn about the specialized Well Marriage Center approach for helping you take back your marriage…