Monday, April 29, 2013

Mariposa and Carolyn Contribute to Google+ on Mental Health Issues

Through the magic of social networking, mental health information will now be shared on my Google+ page . You will find more information on anxiety, depression, trauma and couples' issues. We hope to see you there.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Premarital Bliss: Being In Love is Necessary But Not Sufficient

Relationships go through 3 stages:
  1. The In-Love Stage--You see all of the good in your partner and the relationship. If there is anything negative or bad, you minimize it or ignore it.
  2. The Disillusionment Stages--You've been with your partner long enough to see all their warts and bad habit and all the problems in the relationship. You see all of the bad and if there is any good you minimize it or ignore it. If unprepared, it is very common for couples who come to this stage, to think it's time for a divorce.
  3. The Working Stage--You've seen the good and the bad in your partner and the relationship. You and your partner are working to increase all the good things about yourself and the relationship and you recognize there are things that aren't so good. You're both working to minimize the bad and/or accept that some things aren't going to change. This stage cements the commitment to the marriage and depends the love and devotion. This is the stage that carries couples to "forever."
Couples who come in for premarital counseling and are still in the "in-love" stage often find it hard to believe they will ever have any significant problems. When I say, "There will come a day when you will look at your partner and think, 'What have I done?,' they often don't believe me. They tell me how in love they are, how perfect they are for each other, how much they have in common and how they are different from most couples because they are soulmates. When I explain that every couple goes through the disillusionment stage, that it's part of relationship maturation, these couples often continue to be skeptical. And that's OK.

The In-Love Stage is a delightful place to be. Most of us have been there at least once. Who would ever want to move out of this stage? But, inevitably, we all do. And for couples who haven't experienced the Disillusionment Stage yet, premarital counseling has prepared them. When that time comes, they will be less shocked and alarmed. Thinking back to the premarital counseling, they are more likely to normalize what they are experiencing and say, "Oh, now I get it. I guess we've got work to do on our marriage," instead of thinking, "This means we need to get a divorce."

If you're planning to marry soon, know that according to research, you are half as likely to divorce if you do premarital counseling before the wedding. If you are interested in premarital counseling, you can reach me at 512-795-002 or go to my website.  



Friday, April 5, 2013

Wedding Bell Blues

In 1969 The Fifth Dimension sang this song with Marilyn McCoo asking, "Bill, when are you going to marry me?"

Frequently in my pre-engagement counseling with couples this is the issue. One person wants a commitment and the other is ambivalent or afraid to commit. Endless books have been written on the issue of "fear of commitment." But here's my take on what usually is happening.

In processing with couples, inevitably, the partner who is ready to commit will eventually find themselves asking their partner, subtly or blatantly, "Am I not good enough for you?" Often, that's not the issue. Too often it is the non-committing partner who doesn't feel good enough, worthy, or confident that they can be a good partner in marriage.

As I work with these couples, there is this magic moment when the non-committing partner gets it that their is a skill set for making a marriage work and that learning that skill set is achievable. I call this a magic moment because I witness the light bulb going off in the partner's head and hope spreading across their face.

I believe the non-committing partner is the canary in the coal mine. Marriage is scary. Deciding to stay together forever is daunting. It's natural to be fearful. The partner ready to commit often is overly confident, hoping their positive attitude and optimism will rub off on the non-committing partner. But relationships are always trying to stay in balance. One partner goes to an extreme and to keep things on a even keel, the other partner will go to the other extreme.

This balancing act is an amazing thing to watch in therapy. As the non-committing partner begins to move toward the middle and be more confident about getting married, the partner ready to commit begins to move to the middle and experience their own fears about getting married. At this point, the power struggle is over and the couple can finally start working together to plan a future together.

If this scenario sounds to familiar and you would like to work together as couple to figure out your future, you can reach me at 512-795-0402 or go to my website for more information.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Why Did They Cheat?: Making Sense of An Affair

Inevitability, everytime I work with a couple who's marriage is in crisis due of infidelity, this question comes up. The most common answers of the betrayer is either, "I don't know," or some form of blaming their partner. It's an important question, but it's rarely easy to get to the answer. The betrayed partner has a high need to understand how the affair happened and often has a hard time articulating why it is so important to understand how their partner took the path of cheating.

The question is an important one. The answer informs the steps needed to keep it from happening again. In order for a betrayed partner to rebuild trust, they need for the betraying partner to learn how to "affair-proof" their relationship. Let's use Jack and Jill, two of my clients, as an example. Jack gives one reason for the cheating, "I was traveling and got lonely." My question, "There are a lot of ways, good and bad, of dealing with loneliness. Why that path?" Jack says, "When I travel to Asia, it feels like I'm completely disconnected from the rest of my life. It feels like I have two completely separate lives." At this point, I begin helping the couple problem solve ways of staying connected when the two are on the opposite sides of the world.

Jack might have given a different answer, "Jill never wants to spend time with me. She's too busy with the kids." It would be important for both Jack and Jill to understand that it is never the betrayed partner's fault that the cheating occurred. No matter what the circumstances, Jack, consciously or unconsciously, made the decision to cheat and took the actions. Jill may have some responsibility for Jack's unhappiness in the marriage, and it is important for her to acknowledge her part in his dissatisfaction of the marriage, but Jill has no responsibility for the choices Jack made.

Rarely is there just one contributing factor to infidelity. And many times it is the perfect storm of many elements, each of which needs to be examined and new strategies and habits formed in order to protect the relationship from future betrayal.

If your relationship/marriage is suffering from the immediate or lingering effects of cheating, you can reach me at 512-795-0402 or visit my website for more information about infidelity, affair, and cheating

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

9 Stress Myths, Busted

Today's Huffington Post gives us new insights into the most resent research in the area of stress. Understanding these 9 ideas can signicantly help you identify ways of managing your stress more effectively.

If stress is a problem in your life, working with a therapist can help. You can reach Carolyn C. Martin at 512-795-0402 or go to Mariposa Psychotherapy Services for more information.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Four Advanced Skills for Relationship Communication

In Dr. John Gottman's research, he found that happy, stable couples do the following 4 things in order to keep conflicts from escalating and to have clear communication.

1. They used a "softened start up." The first 3 minutes of a conflict will determine how well the discussion will proceed. If problems are raised with criticism, the discussion tends to every quickly go downhill and relationship satisfaction decreases.

2. Accept influence: understand your partner's way of thinking. In every conflict there are two points of view and two realities. Both realities are right. Hold your views while hearing, accepting and acknowledging your partner's view. Get out of the mindset of who's right and who's wrong.

3. Repair blunders. In the heat of a conflict emotions can escalate. Work toward being respectful of your partner and his/her views, but if you make a blunder, clean up your mess.

4. Compromise. Work just as hard at helping your partner get their needs met in a conflict as you do at getting your needs met.

If you believe you and your partner could use some work in the area of conflict management, you can reach me at 512-795-0402 or go to my website