Building a Strong Relationship Foundation

Just got back from a Gottman Institute training in Seattle and I learned so much to help out couples and families. The training focused on teaching the workshops, Bringing Baby Home and The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work. I am excited to be able to bring back such valuable information! We go to so many classes before a baby is born…birth class, breastfeeding, baby care and many others. All of those classes are important and adding this class to the list is crucial.  Bringing Baby Home focuses on strengthening the couples’ relationship so you have a solid foundation when baby comes home. In a previous blog, I talked about the research that found 67% of couples have a decrease in marital satisfaction after baby is born. That statistic came from Gottman research and he is the creator of these workshops. The workshop teaches skills that will make the transition from couple to family smoother.  The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work is another workshop that can help relationships build a solid foundation. This workshop focuses on relationships with or without children. Gottman has researched couples for decades and his research revealed that there are “masters” and “disasters” of relationships. By using the 7 Principles, you can work on becoming a master or strengthen your master skills.  The foundation of these skills is building a friendship with your significant other. I will be offering the workshops beginning in the summer.

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Technology Use and Relationships

Information is now literally at our fingertips. Does this sound familiar – you wake up, check your phone and find out everything that is going on that day. It really is amazing that we can do so much with our phone. We can check out the news, correspond by email and text, find out things about our friends and celebrities on social media and of course the list goes on. Because our phones can enable us to do so much, inevitably it has become a habit that is hard to break. Just look around and I’m sure you have. Most people are looking at their phones absorbed in the vast array of information that it offers.

Being distracted with your phone can lead to disconnection in relationships. In addition to impacting relationships, social media use can possibly lead to feelings of depression. In 2015, the University of Missouri conducted a study that reported feelings of envy could lead to symptoms of depression. Feelings of envy could occur when seeing all your friends go on vacation, buy new houses and appear to have the perfect life. The study does have some good news. If you are self-aware of the fact that most people only post things in their life that reflect a positive light, then hopefully the feelings of envy will lessen. Just remember that no one leads a perfect life!

Awareness…that is the cornerstone of my therapy approach. Becoming aware of what you are doing and experiencing on a daily basis.  I am not saying stop using your phone or using social media because there are great things about both. Just be mindful of the time you are spending using technology. If after assessing that it may be impacting your relationships set aside time to connect and communicate.


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Self-care and Relationship Care

It is so important that you nurture yourself and your relationship with your significant other. When you are physically and emotionally healthy, you are a better parent. This is especially important after the birth of a baby. According to Shapiro and Gottman, 67% of couples experience a decline in relationship satisfaction after their first baby is born. Also, 1 in 7 women will experience Postpartum Depression.

Having a baby is a wonderful, monumental time in our life but also life altering and stressful. That is why it is so important to rely on your support network or create one if you don’t have one. Sleep is the main thing that goes out the window when baby arrives. It is so important to meet your needs even though it seems impossible with all the new demands that are now placed on you after baby arrives. Have a trusted family member or friend watch the baby while you take a break to sleep or do something for yourself or with your significant other. Continue to communicate with your significant other and express wants and needs. Be aware of signs or symptoms of Postpartum Depression. The Postpartum Health Alliance is a great website with tons of information.

If there are signs of Postpartum Depression, there is help out there and there is hope. If your relationship is suffering, seek out help. Give yourself permission to take care of yourself. If you do, you will be a better parent and partner.

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Parenting is the most rewarding yet hardest job we will ever have. We are in charge of shaping and molding our children to become well-adjusted adults which can be daunting! As adults, we have many responsibilities and multiple roles- mom, dad, wife, husband, sister, brother, daughter, son, friend and co-worker to name a few. As a clinician helping families navigate through parenting ups and downs, I have read many books on parenting approaches. I do not subscribe to a one type fits all parents model. Each family is unique and must figure out what works for them.

Here are some tips that each family can mold to fit their lifestyle:

  • Take care of yourself and your relationship
  • Be aware in daily life
  • Play and spend quality time with your children
  • Create structure and routine but also at times be flexible
  • Consistency- If you say something follow through
  • Communicate with significant other and children
  • Forgive yourself and others…there is no perfect parent!

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