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."