Don’t Be a Stranger: Checking-In with Your Partner

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By Joshua Downs, LCSW

I have had a number of first sessions with couples where one of them ends up saying some variation of “I didn’t know.” Whether that is “I didn’t know you were so unhappy,” or “I didn’t know we were in such a bad place” or even “I didn’t know I was so miserable.” Sometimes this realization comes after a life-changing circumstance comes to light such as infidelity, addiction, financial betrayal, etc. Sometimes the realization comes too late and the relationship ends. While there are multiple issues and patterns that can leave a partner or partners in the dark, I would like to recommend one tool that can help to increase emotional connection and a couple’s ability to truly know each other: frequent check-ins. Continue reading

The Mighty Underdog

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By Lisa Rosen

Have you ever heard of Charles James II? He is a cornerback for the Houston Texans. I recently read an article he wrote called “Heart Over Height.” His story might not “fit” the normal NFL or Hollywood storyline, but he is an amazing example for the rest of us.

Charles is only 5’9” and 175 pounds – outside of the traditional mold of an NFL player. He attended a small school. You have probably never heard of it. Charleston Southern University. If you look up “Charleston Southern University Football” on Wikipedia and go to the heading, “Notable Former Players,” you will see one – Charles James II. When he spoke of his future in the NFL, people laughed at him. He was a small player from a small school. He had no shot.

As he attempted to make it to the NFL, he was criticized, doubted, and rejected. Continue reading

Anger is a Gift!

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By Kevin Hales, LPC

Emotions are a normal part of being human

That isn’t a phrase you hear too often is it?  “How in the world is anger a gift??” you might find yourself asking…

When one stubs their toe, they aren’t likely to curse their nervous system for sending signals to their brain letting them know that their toe is hurting. On the contrary, we immediately adapt our behavior to avoid further pain. I might touch tenderly around the toe to find out where it hurts most, see if it’s serious or possibly broken. I might gingerly try standing on it, walking, possibly running to see just how badly it was hurt. All of this is a natural response to a part of our body that alerts us to something that needs our attention.

Likewise, our emotions are something that are not wrong or right, they just are.  They serve a purpose not unlike our nervous system, alerting us to something that needs our attention. Continue reading

Healing in a World of Hurt

Healing in a World of Hurt

By Joshua Downs, LCSW

Our Basic Human Needs

As a therapist I often find that my children teach me a lot about my clients. I don’t mean to say that my clients are childish, only that they have the same basic emotional needs as my children. To me that says that human needs do not change drastically over our lifespan. And this is encouraging because it tells me that instead of complicating our ideas about what we want and need out of our relationships, we can keep things simple by focusing on children.

One of the lessons I have learned from my children is that humans need their hurt to be acknowledged by people that matter the most. Continue reading

Life Lessons from our Denver Broncos

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By Lisa Rosen

Epic Failure & Ultimate Glory

Do you remember Superbowl XLVIII?  The one where the Seattle Seahawks crushed our beloved Broncos, 43-8?  With only one score for Denver-from start to finish, Colorado fans all suffered through the pain of a distressing and unrelenting game.  If you are like me, you can still remember that sinking feeling; the game we all want to forget.

How about Superbowl 50?  A different story- riding the league’s best defense, our hometown team stared down the favored Carolina Panthers and their MVP quarterback, Cam Newton.  Never trailing, the Denver Broncos beat the Panther’s in a stunning defeat 24-10.  Peyton Manning rode off into the sunset and all was well in the Mile High City.

One game, epic failure.  Embarrassment.  A day we would like to erase from the record books.  The other, ultimate glory.  Victory.  A day that will live in Broncos lore.

Not so fast. Continue reading

Getting Past “Just Tolerating” Your Partner

Getting Past -Just Tolerating- Your Partner

It is easy to love people in memory; the hard thing is to love them when they are there in front of you.  —John Updike

Getting past “just tolerating” your partner

John Updike must have understood a thing or two about intimate partner, long-term relationships, and about the notion of “familiarity breeds contempt.” All of us probably know someone who spoke negatively and poorly about their spouse while that person was still alive, but once that person and relationship ended through death, the living partner is known to suddenly and vocally be extolling the beautiful virtues of their spouse.

If we could only keep those virtues and feelings about our partner at the forefront when “they are there in front of you,” as Updike so beautifully expressed. It shouldn’t take something like the death of a loved one to remind us that we need to be doing more than “just tolerating” our partner. So how do we survive and thrive in long-term, committed relationships, and still maintain that interest, presence and engagement with our loved one while they are still there in front of us? Continue reading

Living a Meaningful Life

Living a meaningful life

By Lisa Rosen

The Secret to Happiness

Robert Waldinger, a psychiatrist and Harvard Medical school professor conducted a fascinating study on the secret to happiness. Here’s what he learned:

“The quality of people’s relationships are way more important than what we thought they were—not just for emotional well-being but also for physical health. Close relationships and social connections keep you happy and healthy. That is the bottom line. People who were concerned with achievement or less concerned with connection were less happy. Basically, humans are wired for personal connection.”  

We need each other. This is both obvious and easy to forget. We can become obsessed with chasing “success” or being “efficient” or thinking too much about ourselves and lose sight of the fact that engaging in deep and meaningful relationships is what makes life worth living. Continue reading

Pornography’s Impact on Society

Pornography's EffectsOn Society

By Kevin Hales, MA, LPCC

My previous two posts covered pornography and it’s effect on the individual and on a relationship. Studies are finding more and more that pornography is not simply a harmless endeavor that doesn’t affect anyone else. It actually changes the brain makeup of the individual looking at it. Pornography has a numbing effect on the individual, causing him or her to see others in a less empathetic manner. In fact, the individual comes to see others as merely objects, something to please him. Engaging in viewing pornography, either willingly or unwillingly, eventually leads one to inferior relationships with others, which is damaging to the well-being of that person and to others who know him. Continue reading

The Risks & Rewards of Emotion in Couples Therapy

Risks & Rewards of Emotion in Couples Therapy

By Lisa Rosen, MA, NCC

I recently binge-watched a marathon of Bravo’s Project Runway.  The show features a group of fashion designers on a quest to get their designs into New York Fashion week.  At the end of each show, the contestants’ fashions are judged, and we learn who moves forward. Season 14 features a “plus sized” designer and advocate named Ashley Nell Tipton. During the judging, Ashley often became emotional—tearful, sad, and frequently verbalizing disappointment in herself. She openly acknowledged her own insecurities, not just as a designer but as a person. The judges had little patience with this and kept telling her to be “stronger.” Ashley’s emotional roller coaster ride gave viewers a window into her heart. She quickly became a fan favorite and marched forward in the competition.

Having Emotions is Healthy

The fact is, there is a little of Ashley in all of us. We all experience fear of rejection and failure. Sharing these feelings with someone close to us is a way to gain valuable perspective, own them, and even let them go. Like the judges, too often, society identifies emotions as “weakness.” But having emotions is healthy, normal, and an essential part of being human. Continue reading