Things your marriage counselor is thinking, but not telling you

When you start working with a marriage counselor you are taking the first step in changing the atmosphere of your relationship. It is a big step, and the best way to rebuild the most important bond you can have. But, in many cases, it can lead to doubts and insecurities.

Leaving your relationship in the hands of a third person is a difficult decision to make. The trust you both place in the therapist is very high, so it is logical to have doubts about what he/she will do or even what he/she thinks. That’s why today I’m bringing you your counselor’s best kept secrets.

Yes, as you read it, in this blog I will tell you what your marriage counselor thinks, but will never tell you. The next time you go for a consultation, you will feel more confident about opening the doors of your relationship to let in this new breeze.

What your marriage counselor doesn’t tell you, in sentences

Why am I sharing this with you? Not so that you will question your marriage counselor in the next session. It is for the purpose of understanding his or her work and its importance to your partner. So that you can take ownership of that time and space to work on yourself and your relationship.

Of course, each professional is different and the ways of understanding therapy and applying it to a specific case vary. However, the following phrases will surely make you feel identified. Don’t forget that if he or she doesn’t say them, it is for your growth. Keep these tips in mind when you doubt him/her.

 “It’s good that they fight”

When a couple attends such a consultation it is because they detect conflict. Recognizing it is the key to begin to solve the problems in the marriage. Although it may seem contradictory, many come to the counselling office ashamed of the state of their relationship and try to minimize things.

Wrong, the marriage counselor must see clearly what is going on in order to guide the work in the right direction. If arguments or fights come up in front of them, they will be more than grateful. That means that there is a mutual interest in starting to put problems on the table to visualize and heal.

 “Do you really want to be together?”

Many couples go to counseling without knowing if it will be the end or if there is still hope. Psychologist Sergi Vilardell explains that in current times intolerance in couples is becoming more and more frequent. It has become “normal” to want to leave the relationship without trying to overcome conflicts.

In this context, the counselor will try to assess whether there is still genuine interest in the relationship. He or she will look at whether both partners are contributing their efforts and dedication, or whether it is a one-sided relationship. In either case, there is hope. But rebuilding that mutual love and trust will take a long process of renewal.

 “I’m not going to tell you who is right, none of you are”

One of the main human reactions to conflict is to try to look for those responsible. It is not that it is wrong to look for it, nor that there is no responsibility for the problem. However, when something doesn’t work in a couple, both should take responsibility and acknowledge their part. Remember that you are also “guilty” if:

  • You did nothing to resolve it.
  • You let time go by without talking about it.
  • You were not clear about how it made you feel.
  • You didn’t give the other person space to express themselves.
  • You pretended you didn’t care in the first place.

There are many more reasons why both should accept your part. Without going any further, love must be protected by each person doing their part to heal the damage of conflict. The therapist will not tell you who is right but instead will guide you both to finding where you have failed and how to improve.

 “¿Why are you asking me what you should be asking yourself?”

Have you ever felt that your counselor is not answering your questions? You are probably asking the right questions, but to the wrong person. You are the one you should be asking. That’s why your therapist doesn’t answer them directly, but wants to direct you to find that solution.

Psychologist and therapist Adriana Mireles explains that the outcome of therapy depends to a large extent on the work of the patient – or the couple. It is about the way in which each one assimilates it, and not only in the consulting room. Don’t expect someone else to answer what you need to discover in order to grow in your integrity.

“I know this scares you, that’s why I’m telling you”

Have you ever left counselling with the feeling that your counsellor has offended you? Do you feel that he or she has touched on a sensitive subject or even a fear? Don’t think that they don’t know or that they are doing it to hurt you – on the contrary! Your counselor is trying to have a positive effect, even if you don’t see it.

There are a variety of neurological studies on fear as a promoter of action and physiological reaction. If you hope to bring about changes in your environment and improve conditions for your partner, it is essential to face your fears. Through them, you will achieve new and different, more thoughtful and measured responses.

Acting on impulse can lead to unwanted actions, with harmful effects on the other person. Your counsellor wants you to work on your ability to adapt to conditions that are not your usual comfort zone. Be confident, it will help you grow on a personal level.

 “I won’t tell you what to do, I’ll help you figure it out for yourself”

In relation to the previous point, your counselor will not tell you directly what to do. He or she will help you to bring about changes in your behavior progressively and with careful work on yourself. At the same time as he or she does the same work with your partner. That is exactly the method of behavioral therapy.

I hope these tips will help you to trust your marriage counselor and get you on the road to therapy that really heals your relationship. If you want to know more about counseling, or want to contact a therapist, don’t hesitate to call 407 618 0212.

The 3 Most Important Elements in a Lasting Marriage

Today I want to share with you the 3 most important elements in a marriage to be happy and lasting. Many experts in the field of psychology have explained over time that marriage is a difficult bonding process to maintain.

It seems that couples are becoming less and less committed or are afraid to take the risk of establishing strong and healthy bonds. To give you a better idea, the NCHS (National Center for Health Statistics) noted that the years 2017-2019 saw the lowest marriage rate ever. Even by 2020, this rate continued to decline dramatically.

It is true that, as human beings, our emotions and thoughts are very complex. Moreover, there are many external factors that can shake a marriage. So what makes a union last, what is the most important element in a marriage that keeps it from falling apart?

3 Important Elements in a Lasting Marriage

I know you are thinking that one of the most important things in a marriage is love. Let me tell you that it takes much more than that. Of course it is essential for a couple to have love, but it is not everything.

Many times in talking with my patients, with the people I help as a therapist and pastor, I find that there is love in the relationship, but there is no commitment, no willingness to change, no respect, to name a few things.

While it is true that a healthy and lasting marriage seems like an extremely difficult road to travel, it is not unattainable. There are 3 very important things that need to be in place in your relationship for your marriage to be happy.

1.   Knowledge

Recent Cornell University research on happy marriages showed that, despite the different factors in a relationship, there are three common elements present in successful marriages.

The first of these is knowledge, both of yourself and of your partner. If you know yourself, your interests, what you value in life and what your goals are, you are likely to want a partner who is supportive and has similar values to yours.

As I have told you before, marriage is a union between two totally different, unique people. However, it is necessary to share a space with common interests and values in order for the marriage to have a solid foundation.

Sometimes in my consultations couples arrive with some difficulty or problem and I ask them: Do you know what your partner likes, what he/she loves, what he/she values? Do you know what he/she likes to do in his/her free time? Do you have an idea of what his/her goals or projects for the future are?

What can I do to get to know the other?

I always recommend reading and applying the Gottman method, developed by the mathematician and psychologist John Gottman. This renowned doctor explains that in a healthy marriage there must be a deep friendship, that is, the couple must know each other intimately. By intimate I mean your personality, your hopes, dreams, weaknesses, likes and dislikes and more.

It is the responsibility of each of you to know each other in depth, to know what you love, what you want in life. The best way to achieve this is by sharing experiences and having authentic communication, but this element is what I will talk about next.

2.   Communication

The second most important factor in a marriage is authentic communication. In the Cornell University study I mentioned earlier, survey participants responded that they believe one of the leading causes of divorce or separation is due to communication problems.

I totally agree with that statement. That’s why one thing I repeat whenever I can to the marriages I counsel is that talking to your partner is the best thing you can do for your relationship.

Authentic communication means opening up to the other person, being honest about how you feel, sharing your emotions and aspirations, and even your fears and doubts. But authentic communication also means actively listening to your partner, not just you talking and talking, but real communication between two people who love each other.

3.   Commitment

Last but not least, there is commitment. By joining in marriage, you and your partner have made a commitment, not only here on earth, but also in the eyes of God.

There is always the possibility of separation and some cases where divorce is the healthiest decision. However, experiencing your union as something unbreakable, something to protect and defend, and not as an obligation, will make your marriage much stronger and happier.

What about when things aren’t going well? my patients ask me, and my answer is that you have to respect and commit to the relationship even more! There will always be difficulties along the way, the challenge will be to find a way to resolve and emerge stronger from that situation.

Knowledge, communication and commitment as a happy formula for marriage

It is a known fact that in the United States around half of all marriages end in divorce or separation. This is according to statistical information from the CDC in the country.

Although this can happen for different reasons, how can a couple that has decided to get married make sure that they don’t end up in these statistics?

As in any relationship, marriages also go through challenges that must be overcome with the effort and commitment of both parties. There is no magic recipe to make your relationship last forever and be happy, but with the 3 common elements in every successful marriage that I presented you can achieve it.

Do you want to share some life experience or have questions about the most important things in a marriage? Contact me through this number 407 618 0212. I am here to listen to you and help you in whatever you need.

Stages of marriage: 7 phases that every long-term relationship goes through

Do you know what the stages of marriage are? Today I want to talk to you about this topic, which I think is fundamental to understanding the dynamics of long-term relationships. Although it is true that each couple is unique, most of them go through a series of distinct stages.

When two people get married they usually make the decision from the position of mutual illusion, which belongs to one of the first phases. But what happens later, when they live together, children arrive or a difficult situation arises?

On different occasions I have heard in my consultations questions like “Is love over, Dr. Duany?” I must tell you that it is not. It is not that love is over. The confusion lies in the fact that you do not know well the reality of love as a couple. Love is in constant movement. Everything depends on how you and your partner live and overcome the different stages of your union.

Stages of marriage: relationships go through these 7 stages

There are several theories that try to explain the stages of marriage. However, in this article I want to base myself on the 5 stages described by Jed Diamond, American psychologist, and add two more stages that I have discovered in my journey as a therapist accompanying couples.

1.   “Honeymoon” or “falling in love” phase

This is the stage in which both idealize each other, there are no defects and the only thing they manage to see are the good and wonderful things they share. They want to be together all the time, avoid arguments and even have intense sexual activity. In this phase it is as if they were still in courtship.

According to psychologist Jed Diamond, at this stage large amounts of endorphins are released in the brain, so the couple can feel great happiness.

This is also explained by Dr. Cindy Hazan, a professor at Cornell University, who revealed that humans can feel passionate for 18 to 30 months. After studying more than 5,000 people, she discovered that the life span of the falling in love phase was long enough. At the end of this “initial euphoria” stage, many people doubted whether they were still in love.

2.   Knowledge

I often tell people that this phase is the time when they “take the blindfold off”. The couple gets to know each other better and establishes a solid friendship within the marriage. If in the previous stage the defects were not seen, in this phase they can be seen clearly.

3.   Internal crises and disappointment

This is one of the most difficult stages of marriage to overcome. The couples that manage to overcome this phase are the ones that last the longest, says psychologist Jed Diamond. I often hear in my consultations, Dr. Duany, ¿Did the man or woman I fell in love with change?

Although in phase two some defects are already visible, the couple is still able to ignore most of them. However, in the third stage, these imperfections become practically intolerable. So, if you are in this stage, your biggest challenge will be to define whether you love your partner enough to accept him/her as he/she is.

4.   Overcoming internal crises and negotiation

After passing phase three and overcoming the crisis, idealizations are left behind and now a more realistic and stable relationship begins to be built. In the fourth stage, agreements, negotiations and the planning of common projects emerge.

It is possible that during this time, children may arrive (if they have not arrived during the previous stages) and the creation of joint businesses or other types of projects involving economic matters.

5.   Arrival of external crises

Unlike stage three, in which internal crises arise, in this stage the crises are produced by external circumstances. They are situations that come unexpectedly and cannot be controlled. If these crises are not managed correctly, they can negatively affect the marriage. Some of these situations can be:

  • The illness of one of the members of the relationship or of the children.
  • Becoming unemployed.
  • The death of a relative or close friend.
  • Change of country or city.
  • Changes at work.

As a therapist I assure you that, if each of you as a couple decides to face any external crisis as an opportunity, instead of looking at it as a threat, your marriage will emerge stronger from this phase.

6.   Empty nest syndrome

The children have left home and the couple is left at home alone. Although it is a necessary evolutionary stage, the couple does not always manage to cope with this new situation. In some marriages it can trigger the well-known “empty nest”.

However, this can be a phase to strengthen ties with your partner. As explained by psychologist Sonia Castro of the European Institute of Positive Psychology, one of the ways to improve this situation is to focus on the relationship, improve communication and return to those early stages of falling in love.

7.   Deep connection and transcendence

After having lived together for years and having overcome the different stages, there comes a phase of tranquility, of absolute connection between you and your partner. Psychologist Silvia Sanz, an expert in marriages, explains that if you have reached this stage, you have forged a mature love. Intimacy is strengthened, common spaces are sought and you have learned to live even with discrepancies.

Have you been able to figure out what stage your marriage is in? Understanding which characteristics, challenges and work needed at each stage can help you handle the difficult times better and more wisely.

If you have been able to identify the stage your relationship is going through and need help, or if you have doubts about the stages of marriage, contact me. You can call me at this number 407 618 0212 and I will be happy to help you.

Common Problems in Marriage: Money – How to Prevent Your Finances from Being a Problem?

According to the Institute for the Financial Analysis of Divorce, money management is responsible for 22% of separations1; making it one of the most common problems in marriage and a potential jeopardy to its longevity.

The strain that managing finances causes on both partners in a marriage is remarkable.  Since they are two different people with different financial habits, they will have to become a team. Even Christian marriages can be affected by differences of opinion on how to manage money.

One spouse may be a spender while the other one is a saver. This is typically the case.  Whether it is due to the concept that each one has about money; the education each one of them received at home, or their expectations about the future, these two perspectives must come together; in order to achieve better communication and reduce arguments about money.

Let’s review some ideas about how to reach an understanding about money in marriage.

The Importance of a Financially Equitable Marriage

Living with your spouse and sharing the burdens in your marriage is a relief from daily stress.  Money problems in the family can be tenacious and unpleasant.

In some cases, one spouse may have to leave a well-paying job to stay home to care for the children or another family member. Oftentimes, the working spouse will take over finances and make all the decisions by him/herself. The financial stress generated by unbalanced situations like these can even lead to domestic violence2.

Decision-making within your marriage should be equitable, because a marriage that is financially equal will be a safe space for both men and women. A space where both parties are cautious about where the power resides in the relationship. The source of household income (jobs, inheritances) and spending styles (how much and how it is spent) are topics to discuss before marriage. It is unlikely to find a partner who has the same exact ideas as you do about money.

When you first enter a marriage, you may not be fully aware of your spouse’s preferences just yet, including their spending habits.

If you feel that your spouse has a different stance regarding finances, do not avoid addressing it. The first step in creating a successful financial plan between spouses is for both to begin to see each other as a partnership.

Ways to prevent money from ruining your relationship

Some of most common topics in marriage counseling are parenting and sexuality. But no one seems to want to talk about a topic that is of great importance, money. Dealing with this issue turns out to be an uncomfortable topic for many couples.

I have recognized such a big aversion toward this topic that the patterns of dysfunction around finances can become like those of sexual intimacy. Pleasure and pain can be defined through money.  A study published in the scientific journal PLOS One 3 states that the perception of injustice in the distribution of finances has a worse effect on marital balance than the perception of injustice in the distribution of household chores.

Both parties must be able to know how much the other partner earns. Financial habits are more linked to personality than to role responsibility4. Then, how do you prevent money from being a problem in your relationship?

Understand your partner’s mindset about money

Before you get married you need to understand your partner’s mindset about money. As uncomfortable as the subject may be, you should talk about pending debts, loans, sources of income, investments, and other financial obligations you have. If you are already married, and you and your partner are hiding information of this nature, bring it to light.

Having nothing to hide, it will be simpler to see the full picture of your financial situation and the perception your partner has about money. But this will not stop certain problems from happening. Why? Would you be surprised if I told you that many arguments between husbands and wives that seem to be over money, are not really about that?

It is rather a clash of tempers. You may be upset that your spouse spends too much money, but what infuriates you is not that you cannot afford those expenses, it is that you are afraid you will not be able to pay your bills in the future. In this case I would ask: “Were your parents frugal or compulsive spenders? Did they have a limited budget?” Answer those questions to learn more about yourself and your partner.

You need to have the same financial expectations and priorities

You cannot expect that both partners’ incomes and jobs will be the same as they were when you first got married. Life goes on and circumstances change.

You need to sit down, even once a year, to discuss what your expectations and financial priorities are: talk about what responsibilities or measures you can take to be on the same page so that both of you can feel comfortable with handling money.

If you want to work together so you can pay off a debt or save more, or to start thinking about your retirement, you need to have the same goals5.

Give yourselves a mutual break

Although marital finances is a topic that should be constantly pursued, I understand that talking to your spouse about each of the purchases you make can feel restrictive. Especially, when you will have to “defend” a purchase that your partner finds unnecessary or does not approve. It is the perfect recipe for disaster.

A simple solution is to have separate budgets to spend on discretionary items of your choice. Take it as “money to have fun”; an amount that will be agreed considering the possibilities of both of you and that each one may spend at your own discretion as long as you respect the budget established for this section. This will bring great success to your relationship.

Increase your knowledge about money

Finally, it will be useful if both of you learn more about how to manage your finances. You can take a course, read books about investing, or watch videos.  Bob Lotich’s Managing Money God’s Way is, for example, a good read to guide our Christian finances6.

God gives us money, and it is our duty to be the best stewards we can be so that we can take care of our homes.

Do you need to know more about the subject? I invite you to contact us at 407 618 0212.

Common problems in marriage: Communication – Learn the skills to Better Communicate with your Spouse

Marriages that can resolve misunderstandings quickly and are not afraid to talk about any issues will enjoy much better communication. When having good communication, the hearts of the couple are strengthened, and respect and understanding will abide.

It is the intention of our Lord that our marriages be full of trust and good values. If we have trust in marriage, there will be love and a strong connection; one in which the commitment between husband and wife cannot be broken.

Still, healthy communication in marriage has its own challenges, which must be overcome.

It is my goal that you understand that anyone can improve the quality of communication with their spouse.

How do I improve the quality of my communication with my partner?

Nurturing good communication is a task that needs commitment and effort. It especially requires many small actions and words, but it is a challenge that will be worth taking in the long run.

I want to give you some recommendations for this purpose:

Stay focused on the present

It is tempting to bring up conflicts from the past that are related to what is happening in the present. It might feel like it is necessary to express those thoughts, but it is not the most appropriate thing to do. Doing so will only cloud the situation and block you from finding a solution.

Therefore, when you find yourself having an argument, do not resort to issues of the past that created wounds. You must focus on the present1, what you feel now. Try to understand the situation and find a viable solution. The present is all that matters2.

Listen to each other attentively

Usually there are those who believe that they are listening to their partners whenever they are having arguments, but they do not really listen, because they are focusing on having a clever rebuttal for their counterpart. That is not listening.

For communication to be efficient, both partners must be active listeners. Therefore, as hard as it may seem, you need to really listen to what your spouse is telling you. You should not interrupt what he/she has to say.

Put yourselves in the other person’s shoes

A marriage needs to have mutual understanding. It’s good to be empathetic and to put yourself in the other person’s shoes3 to understand why he/she acts a certain way.

You should consider the other person’s perspective. When both parties feel that the other is listening attentively, you will feel and communicate better.

Take accountability for your actions

Taking accountability for one’s actions is a sign of personal strength. Effective communication requires acknowledging and accepting when one is wrong.

When both partners share the blame in a situation it softens the other person’s attitude. Then you may reach a solution that meets both party’s needs.

If you have a hard time resolving conflicts with respect, you can resort to couple’s therapy. These are designed to improve communication with your spouse.  It may also help in resolving any other conflicts that you consider to be affecting your relationship.

The Value of a Christian Marriage is good Communication:

As Christians, our marriages must have empathy, and respect for our partner. We must be able to communicate with honest emotions, kindness, and, above all, respecting our faith4.

The Bible is full of marriage advice that can be applied in your own marriage, with the sole intention of improving and strengthening it. The Holy Scriptures are an excellent source of support for improving communication and its quality. Here are some biblical principles we can apply to have good communication.

Treat others the way you would like to be treated

One of the most powerful principles within every marriage is portrayed in the words of Matthew 7:12, where we read, “Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do the same for them…”

What is your response when someone yells at you or scolds you endlessly? Some may answer that they respond in  the same way.  But expressing anger or wanting to hurt the other person are not sensible ways to act.

Treat your spouse the way you would like to be treated. So, if you want your partner to listen to you while you talk or want him/her to help you with household chores, you need to do the same for him/her.

Prioritize prayer within your marriage

Keeping prayer at the heart of marriage is also one of the teachings we can find in the Bible. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 we are told to “pray continually”.  Faith is an axis in Christian families and a necessary component in marriages.

When a couple prays, they bring their problems before God, who will give them the wisdom they need in order to figure out the right answers. He knows your feelings, sorrows, and your heart.

Practice forgiveness

Ephesians 4:32 tells us to “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, as God forgave you in Christ”.

A couple will not be able to communicate well if both parties are angry or resentful. Keeping anger within both of you is counterproductive. You should forgive your spouse more often. If you feel like hurting him/her or like venting your resentment, stop. It is best to talk to your partner with honesty and solve problems as soon as they arise.

Need more recommendations on Christian marriage? We can talk about it through 407 618 0212.

Common Problems in Marriage: Intimacy – How to Keep the Spark Alive?

Do you want to know how you can have more intimacy to keep the spark alive in your marriage? Long-term relationships, such as marriage, generate very close bonds that require attention and effort all the time.  With this, I do not mean that they take a lot of work, but they definitely do not work automatically.

It is necessary for the parties involved to devote some time to intimacy to relive that feeling they had in the beginning.

Avoiding the problem while you are scrolling through your social networks or pretending to sleep, will not fix this situation. In fact, you will only make it worse.  It is extremely important that you know that with proper communication, effort and understanding, you can redirect your relationship to the right path.

Do not miss this article with all the information you need to know about how to keep the spark alive in your marriage. You will also find more interesting facts here. Let’s take a look!

Is it possible to keep the spark alive after years of marriage?

The reality is that keeping the spark alive is an ongoing task because it is necessary, so we don’t fall back into that feeling of monotony and lack of intimacy. However, it is entirely possible to keep it alive if you are aware that there is a problem, and you want to improve the situation for the sake of the relationship.

On the other hand, without a doubt, sex is something that can help keep the intimacy in a couple. It is well known that intimacy has different stages of evolution over the years.

After being married for 4 years, the surprises of being with the spouse decreases and the arrival of children can also be a factor that reduces intimacy. With daily activities and chores, childcare, work and more, there is practically no room left for intimacy between spouses. And, this can be harmful in the long run, and can even cause separations.

Keeping the spark alive and intimacy are necessary tasks for both spouses, which are not impossible to achieve. Without a doubt, they certainly require effort, but results are very satisfying for both parties involved.

What obstacles may get in the way?

It is also important to consider other factors. For example, work, family problems, or financial concerns can also drain your energy significantly. This can drive a wedge between partners.

Another difficulty that often arises is that feeling of inequality that appears in some marriages. That feeling of imbalance of power between partners. To solve this problem properly, it is essential to communicate and understand each other through empathy. Another positive approach is to share how your day went with each other. This will help the other person have a better understanding of how you’re feeling.

It should also be a common goal for both partners to become each other’s confidant. Confiding in your spouse can help you feel safe and loved and will improve your desire to do things together.

How can I improve intimacy with my partner and keep the spark alive?

As we have already mentioned in this article, skills such as communication, understanding, attention and empathy are fundamental tools. Next, I will mention some tips to keep the spark alive in your marriage and solve the difficulties you may have. Let’s take a look!

Express your desires

To express what truly motivates you and leads you to have intimacy, you need to identify it first. Know yourself, explore and discover new things that motivate you to have intimacy and then share them with your partner.

Focus on intimacy

While you have already acknowledged that there is an intimacy-related problem, the solution lies in the desire and effort to leave that problem behind. Pay attention and take the initiative at times to kindle the spark in your marriage.

Date your spouse

Having a free night every now and then can be very helpful in these cases. You can take advantage of that time with your partner by going out to have dinner together or by going to places that you both enjoy, thus, keeping the spark alive in the best possible way.

Look your best

It is true that, as the relationship grows, the sensual side of it is affected. But, you should know that this is not an obstacle that prevents you from surprising your partner again, if you want to do so. Looking good and feeling good about ourselves is something we all notice.

Redefine Intimacy

If you think that when talking about sexuality in a marriage, the only option is intercourse, then you should know that you have many new worlds to discover. Hugs, massages, caresses, redefining what can be done in this type of situation will open new paths.

As you can see, there is a number of things you can do to keep the spark alive in your marriage. You just have to take your first steps and start paying attention to the details so that everything falls back into place.

Feeling truly alive in a marriage is vital for its success. So, without a doubt, it is worth dedicating time for intimacy.

Spark and intimacy

Now you know more ways and tools to keep the spark alive and improve intimacy in your relationship. Remember that communication and understanding between both parties will be vital to reach an agreement and solve any hiccups.

If you have more questions or if you want to learn more information on this regard, you can contact us through the following number 407 618 0212.

Helping your spouse overcome depression

Continuing from our last post, there are several ways you can help your spouse overcome depression. Or at least be the support your spouse needs to seek professional help. Fortunately, depression is a treatable illness. While many people live with depression, they find support to go on living life. Sometimes through therapy alone, or with a combination of therapy and medication.

While there is no substitute for professional help and medical advice, here are eight ways you can support your spouse through depression. You can also help sustain a healthy marriage. There is no doubt that by following these steps, you will help your spouse feel supported. Especially, when she is facing the situationa that is making him/her feel that way.

  1. Be there during her depression

Just being present with your spouse is being supportive. You do not need to try to fix the problem, or even look for a problem to fix. There may not be an obvious issue. And trying to fix a perceived problem can often make things worse for the other person. Symptoms of depression can seemingly come out of the blue, without a clear cause or trigger. What matters the most is that the person struggling feels safe and supported. Never underestimate the impact of sitting in silence with someone who is feeling down. Having someone with you in a time of suffering without feeling the pressure to do anything or say anything can ease the sense of loneliness and despair.

  1. Listen.

Invite your spouse to talk about how he/she feels, and what is on his/her mind, and then practice active listening. Active listening means paying attention and reflecting on what you have heard back to him/her and withholding judgment and advice. It can be helpful to ask your partner at the outset if he/she would like support or solutions, so you know how to approach the conversation. Do not give up on your partner if he/she isolates themselves, and let him/her know you are there if he/she wants to talk.

  1. Encourage your partner to seek professional help

When depressive symptoms persist and interfere with your spouse’s ability to take care of himself/herself, or his/her function at work, or show up in his/her relationships, encourage your partner to seek advice from a medical professional. Your family doctor can refer your partner to a mental health professional as well as prescribe medication if necessary.

A clinical counselor can help a person with mental health issues process problematic thoughts and emotions and develop healthy coping skills. Today, many mental health professionals work online, so you can receive support without leaving the comfort of your home. If counseling is not a financially viable option, visit your local church or search online for low-cost or community support groups.

  1. Remove stressors

Simple daily tasks can seem overwhelming for someone experiencing depression. Taking care of household maintenance, including laundry, cooking, cleaning, and groceries, will help ease the burden. Removing or reducing responsibilities wherever possible will help create more mental space for your spouse.

  1. Get moving, together

Set an intention to spend some time together outdoors. Exercise is a powerful mood booster, and even a short walk around the neighborhood can reap rewards. Movement, a change of scenery, and time spent together can all help change brain chemistry, and when the heart rate is increased, we breathe more deeply, leading to greater mindfulness.

There is also a proven connection between spending time in nature and reduced stress and depression[1]. Taking a walk in nature or spending time in a green space will ease symptoms and increase resilience.

  1. Focus on eating healthy foods

The brain needs vitamins, minerals, and nutrients for healthy cognition, so make sure your spouse is getting enough fruit and vegetables, healthy fats, and drinking plenty of water.

  1. Use words of affirmation

Depression can take a toll on a person’s sense of self and self-esteem, so your words of love, affirmation, and encouragement will go a long way. Encourage your spouse when they make progress, and remind them of their strengths, talents, and the many qualities you love about them.

  1. Take care of yourself

When the people we care for are unwell, the most important thing we can do for them is stay situation fit and healthy. You must continue to take care of your health and well-being, so you can be strong for your partner during a challenging time. As much as possible, keep doing the things you enjoy, connect with your support network, and seek out emotional support. For the other partner, the significant changes to their spouse’s mood, energy, and behavior can lead to a great sense of loss for the healthy and vibrant partner they know so well, and often a feeling of helplessness.

The important thing is to have an active role when our spouses are facing depression and fighting its symptoms and effects. Just by being there, we will help our partners feel better. And by showing our support, we will make them feel they are loved and that we care.

God wants us to be happy, and healthy, and to live our lives to the fullest. He has shown us how by playing our relational role. Just as He plays His in the triune deity, we will be reflecting His relational image and showing our love at its best expression.

See depression as an intruder in your marriage

Like any other illness, depression is an outside force. It is an unwanted visitor that wreaks havoc on your spouse’s health, your marriage, and your family life. Seeing it this way can allow both of you to talk about its effects without feeling guilt or shame.

“Once we start talking about it as a third party, as ‘the depression,’ we will be able to express our frustrations constructively,” says Scott-Lowe. “If Dennis doubted his worth, he might say, ‘That is just depression speaking. It is not you.’ When he is not depressed, he does not think this way. He is filling you with lies.”

Acknowledge that you cannot cure your partner’s depression

Your spouse needs your love, support, and concern. But these important qualities cannot reverse depression. Any more than they can control blood sugar levels, ease arthritis pain, or clear clogged arteries. Just as you would not rely on love alone to cure a medical condition, or withdraw love because it did not cure it. So, do not expect your feelings or attention to be able to alter your spouse’s unbalanced brain chemistry. Use your love to get help and remind your partner of his/her intrinsic worth during this challenging time.

Do you know any other way we can support our spouse when he/she is facing depression? Have you felt depressed by any circumstance? Have you felt God’s hand supporting you while going through a difficult situation? Share your answers with us, so we can enrich our experience and help others face this important issue. God bless you.

[1] Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School,

How to strengthen your marriage

We have been comparing the structure of a house to the structure of marriage. How to strengthen your marriage? We talked about the importance of having a strong and deep foundation. Thus, we also emphasized the importance of having strong walls that do not succumb to the changes of life.

These walls are reinforced by “filling the relationship tank” or “making deposits in the emotional bank.” But what does this mean? How can I strengthen my marriage?

Exercises to strengthen your marriage

Gottman, a well-known author, recommends five exercises that, when put into practice, will allow you to fill the love tank, to fill the emotional bank with resources for the marriage relationship. These exercises are:

Exercise 1: Saying goodbye in the morning

It is recommended that you ask what your partner is going to do during the day before leaving for work. Finding out about at least one event a day in the partner’s life is a way of saying, “I care about you.” It helps to break the habit of inattention and the routine that turns couples into strangers who gradually distance from each other.

Exercise 2: Talk at the end of the day

When you get home, try to mitigate the stress accumulated during the workday though conversation. Many times, when couples get home, they do not speak due to fatigue, or because they focus on complaints or interrupt the other person.

In order to do this, it is advisable to spend a few minutes discussing work issues, how the day went, what you did, etc., without mixing them with those of the couple. By elaborating on concern verbally, we will avoid placing tension on the loved one. It is important to resist the tendency to give advice or to reproach the other person. Instead, it is best to seek solutions and to show support and understanding.

Exercise 3: Show appreciation

At least once a day, verbally express admiration, appreciation, and value the other person for something he/she has done, directly or through a phone call or sending him/her a message.

Exercise 4: Express affection physically

Words and sexual contact are not the only important factors. Outside the bedroom, it is also necessary to exchange hugs, kisses, or caresses, to express tenderness and use skin-to-skin contact with each other.

Exercise 5: The weekly appointment

Once a week, organize a date with your spouse, like when you started dating. Go somewhere together or stay home alone, chatting, getting intimate and expanding the love map.

Following these exercises, we will have dedicated time and attention to our partner, who will gradually help enrich the intimate relationship.

You may be wondering if those elements are the foundation and the walls, then what would the ceiling be? This would be conflict resolution. That is, solving problems that have a solution.

Strengthen your marriage when you face problems

There are two types of problems: solvable and unsolvable. According to Gottman and Silver (2014), 69% of marital conflicts fall into the category of unsolvable.

  • What would be a solvable problem? It would be, for example: house cleaning, child discipline, sexual relations, mothers-in-law, situational problems, non-basic problems, that is, problems in which the solution can be reached and solved.
  • What would be the unsolvable problems? Problems centered on differences in personality and lifestyle. If the person feels rejected by the partner when the conflict appears, if he/she feels that the couple is not moving forward when talking about the problem, if he/she feels less and less willing to give in and stronger when maintaining his/her position regarding the subject, if he/she talks about the subject and notices that there is no affection or good humor.

How to regulate conflicts and strengthen your marriage

So, what would be the steps to follow to regulate conflicts and move towards solving problems? Let us start by indicating that the beginning of a discussion in which we seek to solve a problem should have a soft, non-discordant beginning, through a neutral description of facts: “I feel like… and I need that …”. We must be careful about the words we use.

In addition, we must accept our partner’s influence and understand his/her point of view, accept the things that we cannot change, try to relax our body and not be tense (physiological relaxation), make sure that the problem is not due to some sinful situation. Involve God and seek His principles in order to be guided to the solution. Do not talk too much, start with something positive, use “I” instead of “YOU.” Describe, do not judge. Speak clearly about what you need, express appreciation, do not hold grudges or dislikes. Finally, be vulnerable.

Being vulnerable is one of the most important steps, as it will help you lower your guard and it will also allow you to follow all the steps to resolve conflicts.

By following these exercises and steps, we can move towards having a healthier, deeper relationship, one of love and understanding that supports all the changes that befall it, just the house that was built on the rock. May our rock be Jesus Christ. God bless you.

Is the sexual act something innate or something we learn?

Talking about sexual acts in some religious circles is a controversial topic and makes many people uncomfortable. It is not difficult to understand why if we consider that sex is a gift from God. Someone said that when Adam and Eve got married, the gift God gave the newlyweds was sex. The Bible presents sex as one of the greatest blessings human beings have ever received. That is why Satan has done all he can to misrepresent this divine blessing. Today, I want to talk about a subject that could bring joy to many and make others uncomfortable. But there is nothing to worry about when the truth illuminates our understanding.

So, I will start with a question: is the sexual act something innate or something we learn? As you can see, this is a complex question and one that has produced many debates. Let us try to learn together.

The sexual act was established by God

God created us as sexual beings. We were born with the innate ability to experience sexual pleasure. Our genes, hormones, body shape, genitalia, and method of reproduction show God’s intention that our sexuality would be directed towards the establishment of loving intimacy, sexual pleasure, and reproduction.

Sex is an instinct for human beings. An instinct is something innate, natural, and part of our body. Based on this definition, we can also say that human beings have several different instincts, such as the instinct to be thirsty, hungry, secure, belonging, and more. All of these instincts are part of human survival. Just like sex.

What is interesting about this is that these natural or innate instincts are susceptible to anxiety and can be altered, overridden, or manipulated by our thoughts, emotions, or competitive motivations. For example, the instinct to eat is influenced by personal experiences, thoughts, and emotions, and is the reason many people have eating disorders. The same can be said regarding the instinct for safety and security. That instinct can be altered by the stress and anxiety that a person experiences, leading to anxiety disorders.

So, what can we say about sex?

If the sexual act were something simply natural, not something learned or developed, I would not have needed to study to be a marriage therapist because people would never have problems with their “sexual instinct.” Taking part in a sexual act would be as natural for us as breathing or eating. We would do it even without thinking.

This is true for animals, but not for human beings, who have the brain to think and process their experiences. How nice it is to think that men would have erection problems only due to diseases such as diabetes and not due to psychological problems! And women would never have problems with low libido, orgasms, or worry about how these conditions will affect their relationships.

Studies about the sexual act

So, we can conclude that while the sexual instinct is part of our human nature because we are sexual beings, this does not mean that it also comes with built-in knowledge about sex, and what to think about it. That is why we can conclude that sexual activity is something we learn. This argument is the opposite of the one presented by Master and Johnson.

They based their recognized pioneering study of sexuality on a biological model. The sexual act is more than a biological model. It is so complex that it crosses the borders of biology and integrates all dimensions of the human being.

Tiefer, in his book Sex, is Not a Natural Act, uses the analogy of learning to ride a bike to understand sexual acts. Although we naturally have everything we need to ride a bike, we also need instructions, guidance, and help to enjoy doing it. The same is true with sexual acts.

We learn to enjoy a good sexual act with our spouse through learning. To have a good time, we must learn to give and receive pleasure. This is not a one-way thing, as, contrary to popular belief, women do not exist purely to give men pleasure. We learn to have a good sexual act by discovering the power of human touch in expressing love and affection.

The sexual act also depends on knowing the moods, reactions, and desires of our spouse. Learning from the other’s body. Learning through the years, not just days, weeks, or months. Besides, learning as true partners throughout many seasons, not just as newlyweds. Learning to give and receive feedback. Learning to be sexually vulnerable. I am convinced that no one is born knowing how to have good sex. Nobody. This is something we learn.

The sexual act is natural

We have spent a lot of time preparing human beings to function at their full capacity as adults by teaching them about reading, math, good manners, how to drive a car, develop career skills, and how to get along with other people. But why haven’t we invested the same energy into helping human beings learn to have a sexual act that fulfills God’s original plan?}

Oh, I know what you are thinking. This cannot be discussed in our churches because it is a private matter. When was the last time your church talked about this topic? I understand that it is a private matter, but it does not mean that we must live in ignorance about it.

Let us ask ourselves, where do our young people go to learn about sexual acts? There is a great intellectual void in this area. And, our young people learn about sex at school, with their friends, on television, but most of all, sadly, using pornography or romantic novels.

Michael Cattleman, in his book Great Sex, compares learning about sex by watching porn with learning how to drive by watching action movies with cars racing at a high speed. Action movies are very entertaining, but at the end of the movie, you know that this is not how to drive in real life.

What do you think of my argument? Do you agree with me? If you do not, that is fine. Share your criteria. How could we make our society aware of the need to learn how to have a good sexual act?