Wednesday, October 21, 2009

We All Need Validation

This little movie will be the best 16 minutes of your day. It will make you smile and remind you of your internal compass that says, "We all need validation." The movie is my gift to you today, so give it away to someone you would like to see smile.

If you're having trouble smiling these days because of depression, anxiety, stress, or relationship problems, you can find me at Mariposa Psychotherapy. You reach me at 512-795-0402. I am located at 4131 Spicewood Springs, M-1, Austin, Texas 78759

Monday, October 12, 2009

Increasing Intimacy Principles

1. Show affection when ending a day's events--i.e. kiss when leaving for work, hug before going to sleep.

2. Provide your mate w/love and acceptance by at least once a day really listening to their stories & life view.

3. Shake up the relationship. Boredom fuels conflict. Take your mate on an unusual, out of the ordinary date.

4. Look for small things that are going right, what your partner is doing right, and give positive feedback.

5. Greet your mate w/affection upon waking and when returning from work.

If you would like to increase the intimacy in your relationship, you can reach me at 512-795-0402. I am located at 4131 Spicewood Springs, Austin, Texas, 78759

Monday, August 10, 2009

Is Your Work Draining Your Psychic Battery?

We spend most of our days doing some kind of work, paid or unpaid, it's still work. Are you doing the best work and are you doing the best at your work? Is your work draining you?

Would like your work to energize and motivate you to do great things? Here's a little movie that might help.

If your work has become a burden, we can find a new path. You can reach me at 512-795-0402. You can find more about me at Mariposa Psychotherapy. I'm located at 4131 Spicewood Springs, M-1, Austin, TX 78759

Fun Can Change Your Life

Fun is the child-like experience we have when we're in the moment, not thinking about the past or the future, and experiencing joy. Do you look for ways to have fun? Do you make it a goal to have fun?

When you experience fun, you re-create yourself. That's why it's called recreation. Like a battery that loses it's charge, all the seriousness of life depletes our inner resources. Our psychic battery is drained and needs to be recharged from time to time.

Here's a great little movie about how to let fun change your life.

If your life has drained your battery leaving you emotionally depleted and stuck, we can work on it. You can reach me at 512-795-0402. You can find me on my website Mariposa Psychotherapy. I am located at 4131 Spicewood Springs, M-1, Tx 78759

Are You The Best Version of Yourself?

Here's 5.75 questions you need to ask yourself.

If you've always wanted to make changes but can't seem to meet that goal, we can work on it. You can reach me at 512-795-0402. You can find me at the Mariposa Psychotherapy website. I am located at 4131 Spicewood Springs, M-1, Austin, Tx 78759

Monday, July 27, 2009

Faulty Thinking

Frequently in my practice, I find that clients come in thinking that something is terribly wrong with them because they are suffering emotionally. There is an unspoken message as they tell me about their suffering. "If I just did all the right things and lived my life the just right way, I would never suffer." For them, suffering is an oddity. And of course, it's hard for them to hear me say that happiness is the exception, not the rule.

Suffering is inevitable. Being human guarantees us an annual trip around the sun and suffering to some degree or another. It is atypical for people to find peace of mind, aka happiness. Think about it. How many people do you know who don't experience periods where they struggle with psychological pain from work, relationships, deaths of loved ones, etc.? We ALL put on our best face, for various reasons, and head out each day and try to do the best we can. And under that face from time to time, we're unhappy. And the very strange thing about this fact is that because we have "the advanced brain," we are the only creatures on the face of this planet that experience this kind of pain. Being about to think sure get us in trouble sometimes.

Often emotional pain holds us back from living the kind of life we have dreamed of living. The struggle with our pain becomes our focus. We find all kinds of ways to avoid accepting that we are in pain and all kinds of ways to avoid experiencing the pain. And what's even worse is that we construct our self identity around this pain. Clients say,"I'm depressed," not as if those are just words, but as if being depressed is who they are as people. They could be saying, "I'm having a difficult time right now. I'm a hard worker, but what I'm doing right now to feel better just isn't working." Bravo, you're half way there.

So I have a question for you. What if someone could wave a magic wand and all your emotional pain would be gone, what would you do instead of what you are doing, or not doing?

If you're experience difficulties in you life, you can find me on my website and/or you can reach me at 512-795-0402. I'm located at 4131 Spicewood Springs, M-1, Austin, Texas 78759.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Austin Counseling--Decisionmaking

When interviewing for my first counseling job, I was asked what my worst flaw was. I spontaneously answered, "I'm not very decisive." Surprisingly, I got the job and my first goal when starting the job was to learn how to make faster, more efficiently decision and make the best decision given the situation.

The follow article reflects the process I learned about decisionmaking.

Good decisions are made "with the head and the heart". We actually make better decisions when we use our conscious mind together with our unconscious mind. Researchers in Denmark studied decisions made by people when they were allowed to think about their choices and compared this to decisions made when they were distracted and not allowed to consciously think about their problems. People made better decisions when they had been distracted - when the decision was heavily influenced by their unconscious mind.
We seem to be better able to hold multiple options in our unconscious mind and process them "in the background." Our consious mind can only attend to one or two things at a time.

Follow these steps if you are faced with a major decision in your life.
1. Before you start narrowing down options be sure you have considered all of them. It often helps to spend some time brainstorming. Are there options you haven't considered? What else might you do? Start with a blank piece of paper and write down everything you can think of related to your decision. Focus on generating possibilities without being critical.

2. After generating different options, put the piece of paper away and go do something else. Watch a movie; read a book; or literally sleep on it - go to sleep for the night.

3. Take a fresh look at the options that you generated. Do a few of them jump out at you as especially good choices? Underline them. Do others seem especially bad? Cross them out. Work toward coming up with two or three especially promising options.

4. Divide a piece of paper into two columns - one titled "advantages" and the other titled "disadvantages." Draw a line (or two) across the page dividing it into two (or three) equal sized rows. Label these for the choices you are considering.
Write down all of the advantages and disadvantages you can think of for each of the two or three choices you are considering. There will be some overlap - the advantages of one option may also be disadvantages of a different option. There will also be some unique entries in each section. It may become clear that one of your choices is better than another at the end of this procedure. Don't skip the next step, though.

5. Put the piece of paper away and don't look at it for 24 hours. You may want to take it out again the next day, or you may wake up having made your decision. If you do look at the paper again, look at it from a distance - from across the room. Do any of the blocks stand-out?
If you still can't decide, then bring a trusted friend in on the process. Another person's input can help you see things from a different point-of-view.

Source: Dijksterhuis, A. and Nordgren, L. "A Theory of Unconscious Thought". Perspectives on Psychological Science, June 2006.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Austin Marriage Counseling--Marriage & Money

An important thing for premarital couples to talk about in terms of money is whether they will combine their money after marriage or keep it separate. After seeing couples for over 20 years for pre-engagement, premarital, marriage and post-divorce counseling, I find that unless there are extenuating circumstances, couples who don't "marry," i.e., combine, their money lack a feeling of "being married."

Also, if you don't trust your mate with your money, is it wise to marry that person? Money, sex, and children are the top 3 things couples argue about. Do you trust the person you're marrying with your money, your body and your future children?

And if the couple live in a community property sate like Texas, where I practice, and they divorce without having a prenup, the money will be split 50/50 in most cases. So, keeping it set aside in two different accounts doesn't protect their money from their spouse.

In addition, keeping money separate somehow leads people to believe they have more money than they really do. That's like breaking a cookie in several pieces and saying, "Now I have more cookie."

If money is an issue with you and your future or present spouse, counseling can help. You can reach me at 512-795-0402. I'm located at 4131 Spicewood Springs, M-1, Austin, Texas 78759.
My website is

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Austin Marriage--20 Ways to Ruin Your Marriage

The following list of behaviors are very effective in ruining your marriage.

1. Expect your partner to read your mind.
2. Make it as hard as possible for your partner to apologize.
3. Ignore your partner's request for change by saying, "You knew this is how I was when we got together."
4. When your partner has a complaint about you, ask contemptuously, "What's wrong with you?"
5. When your partner brings up a complaint about you, get up and walk out of the room.
6. When your partner asks to spend time alone with you, refuse or ignore the question.
7. In a conflict, defend your position and refuse to see your partner's point of view.
8. Make sure your partner knows all the things they do wrong and never point out anything they do right.
9. Never show curiosity about your partner's life.
10. Never say to your partner, "Thank you," or "Please."
11. When your partner wants to have sex and you don't, tell them, "All you ever think about or want from me is sex."
12. Never, ever, let your partner change your mind in a conflict.
13. Refuse to reminisce about the good times in your relationship with your partner.
14. Dwell on the things you dislike about your partner and never try to remember their good qualities.
15.Never give your partner the benefit of the doubt.
16. Stop your partner from complaining by walking out of the house.
17. In a conflict make sure you point out all the ways your partner is wrong in their thoughts and feelings.
18. Find a friend of the opposite sex to confide in about how unhappy you are in your marriage.
19. If you're a woman, don't have sex unless you're in the mood. If you're a man, don't give affection until you've had sex.
20. Any one of these 20 things will be harmful to your marriage, but if you would like a divorce, do all of them. It's a guaranteed, sure-fire way to get your partner file for divorce.

If any of these things are happening in your marriage and you would like to heal the marriage and live "happier ever after," you can reach me at 51-795-0402. I'm located at 4131 Spicewood Spring, M-1, Ausitn, Texas 78759. You can find my website at

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Austin Marriage Counseling--Caring for Your Sick Mate

The most prevelent feeling the well spouse experiences when caring for a sick spouse is guilt. There are a multitude of reasons the well spouse may feel guilty. One of the most common is feeling guilt about their own self care. "If my spouse is suffering, I should be suffering," often is the internal mantra running through the mind of the well spouse.

The airline analogy applies here as well as when sitting in an airplane seat. "Put your own oxygen mask on first." If your goal is to take care of your spouse to the best of your ability, don't kill off your ability to do that by not caring for yourself. Take time for yourself to recop. Here are suggestions:

1. If you need help, ask for it. Every good deed you've done has made it possible for you to call on others to help. And it is surprising how often people are completely willing to help someone struggling with caring for a sick spouse.
2. Survey your resources. Who or what organizations might be of help to you.
3. Figure out how you help can help your spouse help themselves?
4. See a counselor/therapist. Often we can't see the forest for the trees. Very often the well spouse can't see options for all the exhaustion. Getting an unbiased, professional's help can lead to new ideas and new perspectives on how to care for yourself and your spouse.
5. Stop and reflect on the possibility that the marital problems between you and your sick spouse may be both normal problems all couples go through and problems related to the illness. To what extent are those problems being worsened by your unwillingness to care for yourself and your partner's guilt about putting such a huge burden on you.
6. Read The Tough and Tender Caregiver, A Handbook for the Well Spouse

If you're struggling with caretaker's fatique or experiencing marital problems with a sick spouse, you can reach me at 512-795-0402. I am located at 4131 Spicewood Springs, M-1, Austin, Texas 78759. My website is

Austin Marriage Counseling--Your Man is Wonderful

I discovered a new book today. It's for woman, Your Man is Wonderful.

The idea behind this book is, "Love the one you're with." Too often I find in working with couples that they focus on all the things that are going wrong in their marriage and give very little credence to what is right and good. This leads to criticisim where there is a complete lack of acknowledgement for doing things right, compliments, words of appreciation and thank you's.

In John Gottman's research on marriage, he found that one of the four most common traits in marriages that are on the rocks is this lack of positive perspective. This book can help women regain that perpective. Now Dr. Nelson needs to write the corresponding book for men.

Here's a brief synopsis of the book: "Here's a secret about your man: He wants to please you. He wants to be your knight in shining armor. He wants to see the smile on your face that tells him he's worthy. He wants to be your wonderful man.

This is what Dr. Noelle Nelson has discovered about a lot of men in relationships: they want to be there for their women and create the mutually supportive, fulfilling partnerships women dream of. The problem is, many women haven't learned how to recognize their partner's good qualities. We notice when he forgets to take out the garbage, when he insists on refolding the laundry, when he goes out for an evening with the guys and forgets to call -- and overlook the very qualities that make a relationship blossom, like basic trustworthiness, reliability, and responsiveness. A clearly defined path to recognizing your guy's positive qualities, Your Man Is Wonderful defines what a wonderful man is -- not just someone who treats his partner with regard, affection, and respect, but one who eagerly engages as her greatest cheerleader, supporter, and best friend. And it shows how to stop griping about your partner and see that the toad on the couch is really a prince-in-waiting."

If you're marriage is on the rocks because there is a lack of positive perspective, you can reach me at 512-795-0402. My office is located at 4131 Spicewood Spring, M-1, Austin, Texas 78759.
My website is

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Are You Committed to Your Marriage?

In every session I have with a couple, I ask each partner if they are committed to their marriage. Once they give an answer, I ask what committment means to them. Over the years I have gotten many definitions to the word committment. Very often people confuse this word with other aspects of marriage, such as fidelity, trust, or partnership.

Webster's definition of committment is "an agreement or pledge to do something in the future; something pledged; the state or an instance of being obligated or emotionally impelled."
More simply stated, the definition seems to mean that you make certain promises and then keep those promises "for better or worse."

What I'm looking for when I ask each partner about their committment is either a direct statement of or something sounding like, "I'm willing to do what it takes to make this marriage work. I'm not going to give up easily. Even when it's really hard work. I'll stick with it and do my part."

We live in a throw-away society. Our culture has made it fairly easy to give up on all kinds of things, including marriage. But the things we stick with, work at, and dedicate ourselves to are the things we hold dearest to our hearts. We take pride in our willingness to do the hard work, and with each new challenge we face, we become even more committed to that endeavor. Committment breeds higher standards, raising the bar for success.

Committed partners in a marriage may initially just want the fighting to stop, but over time as they commit their hearts, minds and souls to the marriage, their expectations rise. They don't settle for just a "good enough marriage," they strive for excellence.

Whatever stage, if you have a desire to improve your marriage, I commit myself to doing the hard work, sticking with you and your partner in finding a better life together. You can find more on marriage counseling on my website. You can reach me at 512-795-0402. I am located at 4131 Spicewood Springs, M-1, Austin, Texas 78759.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Four Warning Signs of Marital Meltdown

According to the research of psycholgist, John Gottman, there are 4 warning signs that a marriage is in jeopardy.

1. Things are more negative than positive in the marriage.
All relationships have both positive and negative behaviors. However, in marriages that are healthy, there are 5 times more positive behaviors than negative behaviors. These behaviors include appreciations, acknowledgement, compliments, and affection.

2. Criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling are consistently present in conflicts.
In Gottman's study, over 80% of couples who used these forms of communication in conflict eventually divorced.

3. One or both people in the relationship "flood" while talking about conflicts.
Flooding is when you go into the stress response. You're being flooded with adrenaline and cortisol. Your heart rate and blood pressure go up as your cognitions become more negative and more irrational. Solving the problems associated with the conflict becomes very difficult and you are more likely to react by using criticism, defendsiveness, contempt and stonewalling.

4. Efforts to repair negativity during a conflicts are unsuccessful.
No one is perfect. When a conflict becomes negative, it's time to make a repair attempt i.e. apologize or acknowledge your partner's point of view. When these efforts are made and are met with negativity or are ignored, the person on the receiving end starts to feel hopeless about the marriage.

If these things are occurring in your marriage, and you would like help in getting back on track to have a better marriage, you can reach me at 512-795-0402. I am located at 4131 Spicewood Springs, M-1, Austin, Texas 78759. You can find me on my website at

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Depression and Anxiety--Our Economic Crisis

Here are a few tips on how to deal with our economic crisis and how to avoid falling into a depression or being overly anxious.

1. If you're sensitive to and easily influenced by what you hear or read in the media, avoid it.
2. A recent research study showed that being around happy people really is contagious. Find happy people to be with and provide that to others.
3. Help someone who is having a harder time than you. Volunteer & contribute to your community.
4. Read inspirational books and articles about how people have overcome adversity.
5. Make a list of "positive rehearsal" statements--thoughts that are soothing to you. Write them down and then pull them out when you're feeling anxious or down.

If you're experiencing depression or anxiety, I can be reached at 512-795-0402. I'm located at 4131 Spicewood Spring, Austin, Texas 78759. You can also find me at my website

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Marital Conflict--Taking Breaks

Criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling cause conflicts to escalate. Catch them early. The earlier the better i.e. before you say them or immediately after hearing them. When these 4 toxic communications start showing up, it's time for a break.

Follow these steps to a better outcome when dealing with escalating conflicts.
1. Announce to your partner that you need a break and how long the break will be. Take at least a 20 minute break.

2. While you're on your break, do something calming and distracting like taking a walk. While you're calming down, stop yourself from using negative rehearsal. Examples of negative rehearsal are, "She's so stubborn," "We're going to end up in a divorce," "I'm fed up with all of this." Replace the negative rehearsal with positive rehearsal. Positive rehearsal needs to be anything that is positive and you believe, like, "I realy like it when he/she says __________," "I really like it when he/she does ____________," "My goal is to have have a happy marriage."

3. After the amount of time has passed for your break, go back to your partner and let them know you are ready to talk again.

If taking breaks doesn't help de-escalate your conflicts, there may be another problem that needs to be addressed in marriage counseling. You can reach me at 512-795-0402. I'm located at 4131 Spicewood Springs, M-1, Austin, Texas 78759. You can find me at

Monday, March 16, 2009

Infidelity / Affairs / Cheating / Adultery

THE CRISIS — Infidelity / Affair / Cheating / Adultery
Basically they’re all the same.
You thought you had an understanding with your partner or spouse that included not having a romantic or sexual relationship with anyone outside your relationship or marriage.

Now —
You either suspect or know for a fact he/she is cheating on you
or has cheated on you.
Or —
You either are cheating or were cheating on him/her.

Nothing stirs feelings up more than dealing with this issue. People frequently report their feelings being completely out of control and often report feeling crazy at times. This is true for both the one cheated on and the one doing the cheating.

Webster’s dictionary defines a crisis as being
“the turning point for better or worse; a sudden attack of pain, distress or disordered function; an emotionally significant event or radical change of status in a person’s life; the decisive moment, an unstable or crucial time or state of affair in which a decisive change is impending; a situation that has reached a critical phase.”

Cheating, or being cheated on, creates a major crisis in your life. And when it does, one word takes center stage — the word that says it all.

Few feelings can compare. Even death often is easier to deal with.

Betraying someone who trusted you, even in the most callous of people, often produces more guilt than almost any misdeed. Being betrayed wounds at the deepest level. It seems as if the relationship can never be healed. How could you ever feel trusted again, or how could you ever trust again?

I continuously hear people say, "It takes time to get over being betrayed." Well, yes. But my question to my clients who have cheated on their loved one is, "How are you going to use this time? Just letting time pass isn't enough. You've got to do the 'right things' during that time that is passing."

Sometimes the person who cheats has a good grasp of what it's going to take to rebuild trust. Often, they have no idea. When my clients "have no idea." I tell them to ask the person they've hurt, listen compassionately to their answer and be willing to do what it takes. This is the essense of committment.

If you and your mate are married, you hopefully have another level of committment. The intent of the vows we take in the marriage ceremony is "for better or for worst." In your marriage vows, aren't you committing to doing everything it takes to make the marriage as good as you possibily can make it?

If you're having a difficult time building trust with your "significant other," you can reach me at 512-795-0402. I'm located at 4131 Spicewood Springs, M-1, Austin, Texas 78759. If you live out of Austin and would like to work on building trust with your mate, you can reach me on

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Wedding Vows--The Most Overlooked & Most Important Part of Your Wedding

The most overlooked and most important part of your wedding is the exchanging of the vows. They are the heart and soul of the wedding ceremony. All the rest is a celebration of the vow exchange.

Your vows are your promises to each other concerning how you will BE with each other. They are your rules, constitution and contract, and like all good contracts, they state your willingness to be accountable to your partner.

Technically, the exchanging of the vows is the wedding. The moment when the vows are spoken is the moment of covenant. And yet, many couples never discuss or make a decision about what will be said. Quite often couples don’t even know what will be said until the day of the wedding, because they leave it up to the minister or officiate to decide.

Surely the most significant words you will ever say to each other should be well-thought out and heart felt. In my premarital counseling many couples chose to spend a few sessions discussing the vows the officiate has provided or learning how to write their own vows.

If you would like to learn more about premarital counseling or writing your own vows, I can be reached at 512-795-0402. I am located at 4131 Spicewood Springs, Austin, Texas 78759

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Nurturing Your Marriage While Nurturing Your New Baby

Ah! There's nothing like bringing a new baby home. You fall in love with that beautiful angelic face, and your heart just melts. What could be more delightful than holding that precious bundle you've been waiting on for nine months?

You bring Little "Johnny" or "Suzy" home and start your new life as a family. But did you know, according to research done by John Gottman, Ph.D. at the Relationship Research Institute, ". . . within three years after the birth of a child, approximately two-thirds of couples will experience a significant drop in relationship quality and have a dramatic increase in conflict and hostility."

Here's some tips on how to nurture your marriage after the baby arrives.

Things You’ll Need in Order to Accomplish these Steps:
A Willingness to Change

Step 1. Date--You and your mate need time alone where the two of you can give each other that "delighted attention" you got as babies and that you got when the two of you feel in love originally. Don't talk about problems on the date. Don't invite friends, family or pets along on your date. Make your date fun. Remember you once were great playmates and it was so fun you wanted to do it forever, so you got married.
Step 2. In conflict avoid criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling. Psychologist, John Gottman, found in his 30 study of predictors for happy, stable marriages that these 4 things give you at least an 80% chance of divorcing if you use them frequently in your conflicts.
Step 3. Play with your baby together. However, don't compete for his/her attention while playing together. This is the moment you first start teaching your child that you and your mate are a team. Play cooperatively. And remember, babies love faces more than any toy and they especially love mom and dad's face.

For more information, go to my website

If you need help with your relationship or marriage, you can reach me at 512-795-0402
I'm located at 4131 Spicewood Springs, M-1, Austin, Texas 78759

Friday, February 20, 2009

Relationships--Connecting? or Not?

Are you annoyed when your "significant other" trys to make small talk with you? And how do you respond? Ignore them or bark at them? If these are the responses you have, you are missing out on "the fundemental unit of emotional communication." Psychologist, John Gottman, has found that these moments are the building blocks of emotional connection. "You're not going to believe what I heard today," translated, really means, "I want to connect with you."

"Turning towards," or responding with positive and affirmative interest, when your significant other makes small talk, is a way to build intimacy and increase positive feelings for one another. It's nice to have this in your relationship, but more importantly, it serves as a buffer when conflicts occur. It's like putting money in the bank. You make deposits over and over, and then the emotional bank account fills. When you have a heated conflict and there is sufficiant positive feelings between you and your significant other, the conflicts are less likely to escalate and there is more opportunity for resolution.

"There's gold in them there hills," and it's those small moments. Relish them, hear the unspoken message in them and respond positively. You'll be amazed how it will enhance your communication and the relationship itself.

If you would like to learn more about how to improve your relationship, you can reach me at 512-795-0402 or go to relationships on my website.
I am located at 4131 Spicewood Springs, M-1, Austin, Texas 78759

Monday, February 16, 2009

Happiness vs. Unhappiness

In my practice in Austin, Texas, I find that people are very often unhappy because they have unhealthy ways of thinking, feeling and acting. Often these people don't get their needs met, rarely get what they want, and/or don't appreciate the good things in their lives. And most of the time this is learned and not hard wired into their brains. That's the bad news. The good news is that if you learned unhealthy ways of approaching life, you can learn new ways.

Ask yourself the following questions:

1. Do you rationally direct your own behavior?
2. Are you in charge of your own destiny?
3. Are you self-aware — do you know yourself and accept your strengths and weaknesses?
4. Are you anchored in the present?
5. Do you seek out new challenges, goals and experiences?
6. Gratify their basic needs through acceptable behavior?
7. Do you devote energies and thoughts to socially meaningful interests and problem beyond your own security, lovability and status?
8. Do you think and act spontaneously rather than on fear based on past experiences?
9. Do you have the ability to enjoy the moment.
10.Do you have little interest in judging other people?
11.Do you have little interest in interpreting the actions of others?
12.Do you have little interest in conflict?
13.Do you solve problems instead of worrying about them?
14.Do you have frequent episodes of appreciation?
15.Do you have a feeling of connectedness with others and nature?
16.Do you smile often.
17.Do you know when to let things happen and when to make things happen?
18.Are you susceptible to the love extended by others as well as have the urge to extend it?

If you answered "no" to many of these questions it could, please call me and lets work together to help you feel happier. You can reach me at 512-795-0402 or go to my website.I am located at 4131 Spicewood Springs, M-1, Austin, Texas 78759

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Predicting Marital Satisfaction

Do you think you can guess what the highest predictor for marital or couple satisfaction is?

In a 30 year study of predictors for happy, stable marriages, psychologist, John Gottman found that being each other's best friend is the highest predictor.

Are you and your partner best friends? Were you ever? If you were, but you're not now, do you know why you're not? More than likely the answer can be found in your conflicts.

When happy, stable couples were asked in Gottman's research why being best friends was so important, do know what they said?

In my practice in Austin, Texas, I increase a couple's motivation to change by helping them understand why being best friends is so important. Then I help them identify the things they are doing in conflict that erode away their ability to be best friends.

If you would like to know more about how to have a strong relationship, one that could last forever, you can reach me at 512-795-0402 or go to couples counseling on my website.
I'm located at 4131 Spicewood Springs, M-1, Austin, Texas 78759. Also visit

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Getting Married--Is he/she that in to me?

Today is Valentine's Day and single women around the globe are waiting for the man in their lives to pop the question, "Will you marry me?" After all, isn't Valentine's Day the perfect day for popping the question?

Whether he asks or doesn't. Whether she answers, yes or no, single men and women all over the world will be asking themselves, is he/she really the right one?

As a counselor of over 20 years and a person married 39 years, here's a piece advice that could save you a lot of needless pain and suffering. Before you pop THE question or before you say, “Yes,” to THE question, get some advise on whether it's a good decision to marry each other. Over 50% of all marriage fail and often people say they wish they had picked more wisely. Deciding to marry is the most important decision you will ever make. And you can't afford to just make this decision with your heart. A decision made with both your head and your heart is more likely to lead to a happy, healthy marriage.

According to a recent LA Times article:
“Increasingly, couples are seeking out ‘pre-pre-marital counseling’ or pre-engagement counseling. It's an opportunity to sit down with trained advisers to examine, dispassionately, whether their love is a passing fancy... Using tools from social science, it aims to prepare them for conflict, to prevent unions based on blind impulse — and, ultimately, to reduce the divorce rate...”

If you're interested in pre-engagement counseling, you can reach me at 512-795-0402 or go to pre-engagement counseling my website.
I'm located at 4131 Spicewood Springs, M-1, Austin, Texas 78759

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Marriage and the Evolving Economy

Any outside stressor can put pressure on your marriage. It could be extended family issues, children's needs, work, money, etc. But why do these stressors seem to bring some couples closer, while other couples unravel under the pressure?

Having outside stressors means there are new problems to solve. Both partners in the couple have their own ideas about how to solve the problem. This can produce conflict. For couples who haven't learn how to work like a team, there can be bickering and fighting over who's right, who's wrong, and who's to blame for the problem.

In addition, each partner may be experiencing significant personal stress. This stress often makes it harder to be rational and logical. Solving the problems at hand is more difficult under these conditions. These personal stressors then become another barrier to communicating with each other.

In psychologist, John Gottman's 40 years of marriage research, he has found that the way people discuss their problems is highly predictive of how happy they will be in the marriage and whether they will divorce or not. He also has found that if couples have conflicts involving criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling, the conflicts will escalate. The problem will divide the couple instead of uniting them. He also has found that if couples have these escalated conflicts, the conflicts will get worse over time, driving the partner apart. Each partner starts feeling hopeless about whether things will ever change. At this point, most couples divorce.

Gottman has found that couples wait about 6 years too long to deal with their inability to regulate their conflicts. Don't wait. If you feel your marriage is taking a downward spiral, get help even if your partner won't join you. One person can make a signicant difference.

If interested marriage counseling using John Gottman's methods, you can reach me at 512-795-0402 or find information about marriage counseling at my website

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Happiness--Where Are You?

In my practice I always ask my clients to write goals for what they would like to accomplish. Sometimes my clients have a hard time being specific about their goals and say, "I just want to be happy again."

Initially in working with these clients, they say that "if __________, would change" they would be happy. In other words, if they got what they wanted, then they could be happy.

As I work with these clients, they come to learn that getting what you want doesn't necessary bring happiness and that happiness is a complex subject. There are many theories of what makes us happy. So, I have an exercise I do with these clients to get to the "the juicy" stuff that actually can move them closer to happiness.

When you're pondering your own happiness, identify what it is you think would make you happy and then ask yourself, what about this "thing" would make me happy. So let's say you think having a new Lexus would make you happy. What about having a Lexus would make you happy? "Well, then I would have a beautiful, new car." Then ask the question again. What about having a beautiful, new car would make you happy? "Well, I'm really tired of driving around a piece of junk that breaks down all the time, looks awful and isn't dependable." Then ask the question again. What about having a car that isn't junky, doesn't break down and is dependable would make you happy? "I could stop worrying about whether I was going to be stranded somewhere and stop worrying that my friends, family and coworker think I'm financially irresponsible."

Now we have something to work with. A Lexus for you represents feeling secure and finacially responsible. This is what you are needing. Now we can find ways of getting those needs met without going out and buying the Lexus, which you can't afford.

However, even getting those needs met may not spell happiness. More often it just eliminates unhappiness.

The Dalai Lama has said, "I believe that satisfaction, joy and happiness are the ultimate purposes of life. And the basic sources of happiness are a good heart, compassion, and love."

I have found that the farther away my clients move from having a good heart, compassion for others, and truly loving significant others in their lives, the more unhappy they become.

If you're unhappiness, which often is described as depression, is concerning you, we can work on rediscovering your purpose, living a life of "satisfaction, joy and happiness." You can reach me at 512-795-0402 or on my website

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Intimacy--Feeling Close and Connected

A frequent complaint I hear in couples counseling is, "We don't feel close anymore. We just feel like roommates." Often this means there is a lack of intimacy, not necessary sexually, but more often emotional intimacy is missing. If you could observe, like a fly on the wall, the lives of couples who report they feel close and connected you would find that they engage in certain things that create intimacy.

General Principles of Intimacy

1. People who are intimate spend time together.
2. People who are intimate talk about vulnerable feelings, hopes, and dreams.
3. People who are intimate touch each other a fair amount.
4 Men and women often have different ideas about creates intimacy.
5. People who are intimate do thoughtful actions for each other — “grants” of daily loving behavior.
6. People who continue to stay intimate over the years have learned to be very specific about what they want and need from their partner.
7. Intimacy can only occur in an atmosphere of trust.

If you don't feel close and connected to your partner, an intimacy issue may be getting in the way. If you would like more information about how to work on these issues, you can reach me at 512-795-0402 or on my website

Monday, February 9, 2009

Austin Marriage Counseling

How's YOUR marriage?

Let’s try a few simple True/False questions and see how versed you are in relationship or marital satisfaction:

In happy stable relationship/marriages, couples work hard at avoiding conflict.

The second highest predictor for ending of a relationship/divorce is affairs.

Complaining in a relationship/marriage is bad for the relationship/marriage.

Couples need to learn to have a high tolerance for negativity once they committ to each other or marry.

A happy, stable relationship/marriage is characterized by both partners working hard at maintaining the feelings of being in love.

The highest predictor for the end of a relationship/divorce is unresolved conflict.

How did you do? Did you guess that most of these are True? Guess again. Every one of them is false.

If you would like to learn what it takes to stay married forever, call me at 512-795-0402 and go to marriage counseling on my website

I'm 60.

What a fantastic birthday. Kauai was beautiful, fragrant, calming, refreshing and because of the 100% humidity and no heat, I looked 50 not 60. It was much worse "going to be 60" than being 60.

I wouldn't exactly say I held my breath all year, but there was some relief having "the birth day" behind me. And the alternative to not "turning 60" is not desirable to me.

I saw Benjamin Button yesterday and the idea of going backwards in the aging process seemed very appealing. But as my husband said, "Going forwards or backwards, it all ends the same."