We know what it's like-- you and your partner have brushed over the idea of couples therapy post argument quite a few times. One of you mentions it, the other says it might be a good idea, but then... nothing happens.  Don’t worry! This is normal. After noticing a problem, it takes couples an average of six years to begin attending therapy. While we don’t recommend waiting this long, there are some tips and tricks we can recommend to help you figure out how to navigate disagreements at home in the healthiest way possible.   Notice and shift your mindset Pay attention to your internal dialogue. How often does your partner do something totally benign, like forget to empty the dishwasher, and you skyrocket into remembering all the annoying things they do on a regular basis?  Humans are wired to notice and remember the negative rather than the positive. While this makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint, it means you are going to have to be intentional about noticing all the tiny positive things your partner does on a regular basis. But listen-- if our bodies are wired towards negativity, it is not realistic to entirely wipe out noticing all the things that frustrate you. Instead, just try to add in noticing two or three positive, helpful, or adorable things your partner does each day. This is a small and effective way to begin to rewire your brain to look for positives in your partner instead of the negatives.   Take note of what happens before, during, and after an argument This is really about trigger recognition. The word “trigger” typically means something that reminds someone of a trauma. This being said, I am using the word “trigger” here as something that starts an argument or escalates an argument.  This is crucial for a ton of reasons, the first and foremost being accountability. The ability to identify your triggers gives you power over your feelings, and allows your partner to know what things really set you off. This makes it easier to avoid walking on eggshells, and can even shift you towards feeling more comfortable with each other.  While noting what happens before and during an argument is a great way to increase awareness of triggers, noting what happens after an argument gives you agency in identifying what makes you feel better, and what continues to escalate you.  Avoiding thought patterns like rumination will make it easier for you to gain control of your emotions, and will help you and your partner move towards repair rather than remaining in a cycle of anger and frustration.  Create rituals If you and your partner are inching towards disconnect due to chaotic lives, find a moment or two for a nightly ritual. Daily rituals create a sense of identity for the couple, and can even lead to an overall increase in relationship satisfaction (and can be helpful for business relationships, too!).  Rituals do not have to be anything groundbreaking, and can be as simple as sharing a cup of coffee in the morning, or as deep as spending some time each evening reflecting on your favorite moments of the day. The goals are really to 1. Create security and warmth in a pattern, and 2. Increase both symbolic and actual connection.  If you two are packed with careers, children, family commitments, and other parts of life that make this feel impossible, remember that rituals do not have to be an addition to your daily routine. Instead, you can focus on just completing some of your tasks together (i.e. coffee in the morning, or cooking dinner together).   Talk about your future The goal with this tip is to really help you and your partner gain some clarity about how to move forward. It is really common to get into the weeds during arguments and to focus on minutiae detail and historical accuracy. This can make it feel impossible to get to the root cause of what is going on. So, instead, try thinking about the future. What do you want it to look like? Do you have common goals? Do you picture your future together? Spend a couple of minutes writing down what you want the next five years to like, and share it with one another. This can be a scary activity, but is a really effective first step towards figuring out where to go next.   Be patient… All in all, be patient. The topic of couples therapy can feel daunting, especially when there are years of built up emotion to address. Take it one step at a time, and start with these small tips.  If you feel like you are ready, or want to sort through your options, give us a call-- we are here to help!  Alyssa Ashenfarb, LCSW  ​

You’ve always been one of those people who understands the importance of establishing your unique character and relishing in it. You took time to develop who you are and have defined the things that you enjoy and are meaningful to you. You truly like who you’ve become.  Of course, your partner loved who you were, which is why you found each other. You looked forward to each other’s company and adored one another. How is it now, you may ask, that you feel so far apart? Why does it feel like your partner doesn’t feel the same about the person you’ve worked so hard to become?  Reconnecting with yourself Relationships have so many important things to attend to. Giving attention to your spouse and family, meeting household needs, and completing your work responsibilities can prevent you from being in touch with yourself and the passion of your early relationship.  Believe it or not, making more time for yourself may be the key to rejuvenating your earlier excitement.  You owe it to yourself and your loved one to re-awaken that part of you that makes you feel uplifted. So let us break down how to reconnect with yourselves, and resurrect what you both enjoy most about one another!   A story you can relate to... Jamie* delighted in Mark*’s bold entrance into the dinner party. Mark filled the room in a most lively way and captivated everyone he spoke with. Jamie caught Mark’s eye also. There was a quiet air of confidence about her. He liked that Jamie seemed to know who she was and was able to command respect from others.  Jamie and Mark fell in love and later got married, but eventually often found themselves in conflict with one another. Jamie often accused Mark of wanting to dominate her. She complained of his unrelenting minimization of her suggestions for financial management. Mark found himself increasingly annoyed with Jamie for ignoring his input and implementing her own way with the finances. Both Jamie and Mark sensed that they were becoming more distant and found themselves hesitant to be the confident people they were, which led to other identity issues and relationship problems. Who are we to our partners if not our truest self?  Why does this happen, and how can I fix it?  People can lose touch with themselves when they forget what is most important to them. Not feeling in touch with your own identity can take other forms as well. Perhaps you no longer connect with your original sense of creativity. Or maybe you’ve lost the spirituality that kept you grounded and able to inspire others.  But keep this in mind- you cannot maximize your marriage if you do not make space for self-appreciation through developing and maintaining who you are.  Take time to remember what you enjoy about yourself and how it made you and your partner feel. It also helps to understand any current relationship insecurities. Understanding and accepting the reasons behind your insecurities may help you learn more about yourself and your partner. Integrating what you enjoy about yourself with the needs of your relationship can create deeper joy and connection for both you and your partner. Think of some specific activities that have made you come alive. If you are still interested in them, indulge in them again. If there are new activities that energize your soul, make time for them. If you and your partner enjoyed them together, make time to enjoy them together again. It may be what you need to reawaken your passion for one another.   Remember Jamie and Mark?  The things they loved about one another later felt conflictual to them. It’s important to strike a balance between the things you enjoy doing and the things your partner needs from you. Enjoy who you are, while being able to use various other parts of yourself to respond to the needs of your relationship.  Perhaps it would have been helpful to Jamie and Mark if they had set time aside to engage in activities that made them feel in touch with their strong selves as well as time to be vulnerable with one another, lending other parts of themselves to respond to each other’s needs.  You may feel that you do not fully know yourself yet-- who does? Take time to discover, enjoy and value new experiences that speak to who you are apart as well as together. Continued discoveries about life, yourself, and your partner is a vital part of building a relationship of integrity and respect. When each of you upholds your own integrity, the needs of the relationship can be addressed on what is real. When you are honest with yourselves, it becomes easier to focus on what’s right between you.  How do we get there? Therapy is a great way to get intouch with our inner joys and needs. Therapy can be a place of discovery, a place to slow things down a bit; enough to take an honest and safe look at your strengths that can be maximized to help a meaningful relationship flourish. Therapy can also be a place to speed things up toward progress in a way that might not have if there were no therapy. Therapy can be a good way to unlock the barriers to rediscovering yourself and what your relationship can be. We are here if you two decide to give it a shot!  *These are fictional characters and not based on a real example.    Jacqueline McIntosh, LCSW   




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Our Thank You to Our Clients

We are always looking for new ways to let you know how immensely grateful we are for you. It is crucial for us to express just how important your business and your human connection is to us. 


We put a ton of effort into thinking of ways to let our clients know how much we appreciate you: your thoughtfulness and your hard work in your healing process. We see how much effort and intentionality you put in-- from individuals learning to take risks in connection, to couples using their time and energy to devote to their relationship wholly and fully. 


Each week you come in with your game face on, doing everything you can to figure out how to take what we say to heart. You take the risk of being vulnerable by showing us your deepest self, and then do the hard work to make your lives better.


No one chooses to be knocked down, but people do choose to get back up. 


We are with you in your moments of pain, your expressions of defeat, and your feelings of confusion. We stand with you when the world feels like it is falling apart, and like you do not know where else to go. When the weight of your empathy feels too heavy, because that is what the full experience of being human is, we are here to hold that in tandem. 


Whether you are coming to us for therapy as an individual or a couple, we know it is not easy, and we know it can feel tough when we push you to be your very best. This is a post to let you know that we are SO grateful for everything you are and everything you do. 


We sincerely want to support you in all ways we know how, and are always here to learn more about how we can serve you better. The more we know, the more we can help, which always has been and always will be our priority. 


The Syndesi Relationship Counseling Team