LoveTip

LoveTip: How to Be Silly (and How to Become a Rockstar Romantic Partner)

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Have you ever witnessed children in play? How easy it is for them to laugh, dance, sing, use silly voices, imagine they are dinosaurs, play dress up with their friends for hours? Children are so natural at play because they lack the restrictions and limitations that get layered on as life happens. But what happens when you grow up? Play becomes so much harder. We have work and find ourselves dealing with relationship and financial issues, and then we have to get the kids to school, soccer practice, ballet class, etc.

Much of the work I do with couples in couples therapy and parents in my parent coaching sessions is focused around learning how to be your true self around your partner, and how to be more spontaneous and silly as a couple. Being silly creates connection which cultivates intimacy, which generates trust. It’s a circular thing, because you have to trust your partner to be silly with them, and you have to feel safe that if you try out a silly or playful activity, they will respond with warmth and care. You could set the stage by speaking with your partner before these activities and say something like, “I love being silly! I think it might make us more connected, will you try out some of these things with me?” (Be brave here! Your inner heart might be saying, “I’m scared he/she won’t respond and he/she will think I’m weird” - but, remember, I’m weird. You’re weird. We’re all weird, and it’s so important to keep trying to stay connected to your partner). See how your partner responds.

10 ways to be silly with your partner:

  1. Spoil your dinner with ice cream. Talk about your favorite ice cream, and try out each other’s favorite.
  2. Buy temporary color hair spray and try out rainbow hair. Surprise each other with a new hairdo!
  3. Talk in a silly voice and make up a secret, inside joke that only the two of you know.
  4. Do artwork together and put it up on your fridge.
  5. Build a blanket fort and drink hot chocolate together.
  6. Make giant bubble solution and blow bubbles together (it’s relaxing!)
  7. Cut snowflakes together and hang them up on the windows in your bedroom.
  8. Play a couples version of Pictionary. Draw things that are special and unique to your relationship history - see if your partner can guess what you are drawing! The sillier the drawing better.
  9. Plan an activity with your partner that feels kid-like: go to the zoo, or climb trees, or to a kid’s movie! It can feel so nice to be reminded of our childhood experiences, and when we do this with our partners, it expands our interpersonal connection in a deep and meaningful way.
  10. Sing a song to your partner, even if you don’t like your voice. Ask them to sing one to you back. Oh, and dance. Dance to your favorite song.

Some things to remember are that not everyone responds to playfulness in the same way, and a lot of people need a bit of time to get comfortable with the outside-the-box activities. Try one activity, and then go onto the next one, if the first one doesn’t work! Give space to your partner if they don’t respond right away. And, don’t forget to say thank you to your partner for experiencing your activity. Verbal appreciation can be very helpful in reinforcing what we want to happen again.

As we move into the new year from this holiday season, it can be stressful to think about expectations related to your relationship and the ever important, “date night.”  But, try sitting down with your partner and taking just 10 minutes together to plan out some playful moments of connection, which don’t have to be limited to one specific night!  I would love to hear about your silliest moments with your partner. Share below!  

 

My Loved One Experiences Anxiety, Why Can’t They Get Over It?

Anxiety can feel as though you are being chased by a lion. Although this analogy may seem extreme to those who don't deal with an anxiety disorder, it's one that makes sense to someone who encounters anxiety on nearly an everyday basis. Sufferers of anxiety know the feeling of fear, experience hypervigilance to everyday situations, have an excess energy or even a depletion of energy due to the exhaustion of panic and feel that there is imminent danger nearby even though there may not be an actual threat around them.

Having the understanding of friends and family to support you through your anxiety can make all the difference in the world, but it isn't always easy to have empathy when you haven't experienced anxiety firsthand or been taught a bit about it. It is very natural and common for those closely connected to individuals with an anxiety disorder to believe a number of things such as, “I support them, I love them, and it doesn’t seem to be enough,” “It cannot possibly be that bad,” “They have a good life, this doesn’t make sense,” or “Why can’t they just get over it?” These are some typical thoughts to have, but are not helpful for someone who is struggling with anxiety to hear.

When someone is going through anxiety, their body is reacting as though there is danger close by and their stress response is activated. This means they experience acceleration of their lungs and heart, so the blood will rush to their extremities to be prepared to run from danger or “brace” themselves from it. It can also mean they cannot utilize critical thinking or logical thinking because their energy is currently in use to save them from a perceived danger. They can also experience tunnel vision, loss of hearing, and shaking, among other physiological responses. So, truly, they are reacting as though they are being chased by a lion. And yes, they know they aren’t being chased by a lion, which can make these feelings worse because they do not make sense to them.


So, what can you do? Ask them what they need. They may tell you they need to be alone because they are overstimulated and that is okay. Tell them where you will be if they need you. They may say that they need you, but do not know how they need you. You can sit with them and wait until they are ready to talk to you. But probably the most common response is, “I don’t know.” During these times, you can use your judgement, but giving advice may be the least helpful since they cannot truly hear you and any advice given may be minimizing their experience. Once they have calmed down, rested, and time has passed, ask if you can talk about what they need or want you to do in these situations. Ask them what is helpful and not helpful. It could be a trial and error situation, but the fact that you acknowledge what they are going through is real will make all the difference. And as always, if it is debilitating for them or they/you believe they need more help than what you can give, have a gentle discussion with them about finding a professional who can help the both of you.

LoveTip: Rethinking Infidelity

When we talk about infidelity, chances are you have a strong, even visceral, response. Esther Perel challenges us to rethink these gut reactions and redefine what we think we know about infidelity and, by extension, about the fundamentals of relationship. In this TedTalk, Esther Perel explores the changing climate of infidelity in the age of social media and our instant ability to connect with others without even leaving our home. Put plainly, “It’s never been easier to cheat, and it’s never been more difficult to keep a secret.”

Giving the transformation of modern marriage historical context, she discusses the traumatic impact that today’s infidelity can have on a marriage due to the foundation of modern marriage being built on love & compatibility more than ever before. With that comes the unattainable expectation we put on our partners to be our lover, best friend, soul mate, intellectual inspiration and solver of all problems. Imagine trying to achieve all of those things at once while still maintaining your individuality? Not possible right? Thus, today’s infidelity doesn’t just threaten the relationship, it threatens our entire sense of self.

Does that mean the damage and traumatic backlash of infidelity is insurmountable? Certainly not. In fact, her research debunks several age old myths and addresses questions like “Why do loving and committed partners cheat?” Perel suggests that affairs are often more about desire than sex, and concludes that marriages can heal from infidelity and can actually be more fulfilling, passionate and healthy than ever before. In this video, she also shares some concrete steps couples can take after an affair is exposed. Perel’s work reminds us that our relationships are as multifaceted and fluid as we are as she challenges us to take an earnest look at love, desire, commitment and the expectations we use to define ourselves and our partners.

For more information on Esther Perel, visit her website.

 

LoveTip: The Genderbread Person

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the facets of our sexuality can be just as complex as every other facet of our identity. However, it can be difficult to discuss sexuality when we don’t have the language to describe it or perhaps are afraid of mislabeling ourselves or another. Sexuality is a combination of attraction, expression, relationship and so much more. The Genderbread Person conceptualizes sexuality on a spectrum and chooses to go deeper than an either/or definition. This can be a wonderful tool to facilitate conversations about sexuality and a helpful resource for self-exploration as well.  

LoveTip: Our Hour

The transition into parenthood can be a rocky one. Albeit wonderfully filled with the happiest moments of your life, many often find themselves experiencing some of their lowest or most frustrating moments as well. Caring for one or more little ones (or teens for that matter!) can also take a toll on your relationship, and finding the time to focus on your connection to your partner can seem like a daunting task between meals, work, soccer practice, alone time, sleep, etc... So why not start small?

The concept of "Our Hour" is simple. It's one hour a week to spend with your partner. The point is to connect free of distraction, so we suggest tabling your cell phones and screens. Use your hour to put on a record and listen to music, whip up a fun meal, take a walk and hold hands instead of babies, dream together, discuss, laugh, dance, you name it! The point is, that you are intentional in making time for your relationship.

Why not start this week?! Sit down with your partner, break out the calendars, and give yourselves something to look forward to! We wanna hear your ideas for how you'd spend "Our Hour" with your partner. Share below!

Be Your Own Best Friend

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The tendency to be so much harder on ourselves than we are on loved ones seems to be almost universal.  We're so quick to comfort friends or family when they're feeling down about embarrassing moments or unfortunate mistakes.  We assure them that even though this one failure feels huge at the moment, it really isn't that big of a deal.  We help them find the humor in the situation and laugh it off.  We chalk it up to being a learning experience, and remind them that they'll know better, and do better next time.

But then when we find ourselves in a similar place, we beat ourselves up over our own short-comings.  How many times have you caught yourself dwelling on an excruciatingly embarrassing moment days, weeks, sometimes even months later?  Or scolding yourself, internally calling yourself stupid or foolish?

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We often minimize the mistakes made by people we love, but don't give that same compassion and support to ourselves.  Next time you realize you're being hard on yourself about coming up short in some area of your life, try imagining what you would tell your best friend or your younger sibling if they were in your place and looking for comfort and guidance. Let's try that RIGHT NOW! Think of a recent time that you made a mistake. Close your eyes and imagine your very best friend standing right in front of you. What would they say? Now picture yourself standing right in front of you. Take the words of your best friend and have yourself repeat them back to you. Feel better yet? It take some practice, so try that same exercise a few times today!

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Being as generous with ourselves during vulnerable moments as we are with other important people in our lives has the power to change the way we feel about challenges, as well as the way we face them. You just might be the best source for the encouragement you need! 

Need 5 Simple Steps Toward Becoming Your Own Best Friend? Try this!